clean-out the refrigerator stir fry.

What a title, eh? Along with soups, curries, frittatas, and salads, stir-fries are another wonderful way to use up all those odds and ends in your refrigerator. They are especially forgiving to vegetables.

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During my market shopping, I picked up a few red bell peppers because, well, why not? I figured I’d use them one way or another. When it became clear that I was going to have one leftover or go to waste if I didn’t act quickly, I soon decided to throw together a stir fry featuring that bell pepper, kale, carrots, and celery from last week’s market haul that needed to be used up before going bad, and topping it off with some leftover cooked chicken from a dinner party I had on Saturday. I had both rice noodles and brown rice in my pantry, and decided to go with rice, although you could use whatever your heart or pantry desires!

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The most important thing to remember is use what you have, and to add them to the wok or pan in order, starting with the vegetables that will take the longest to cook: carrots and onions, in my case. If using leafy greens like me (bok choy, spinach, etc.), I like to add them when I add the sauce, just to let them wilt a bit. The sauce I’m using is a very simple, all-purpose stir fry sauce, and it can be modified to your liking. I don’t add garlic or ginger to this sauce, instead I fry them in the oil at the beginning of the cooking process to infuse the oil. Garlic, ginger and jalapeño in my case, but you could use a combination of all three, or sub in scallions if you’ve got those to use. The addition of the cornstarch makes the sauce thick and glossy, and you’ll be hard pressed to believe that you aren’t eating takeout!

To make this dish gluten free, please sub dark and regular soy sauce with tamari which is naturally GF, and be use to use a GF cornstarch (you can also just leave it out, but the sauce will not be as thick).

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I hope you enjoy this as much as I do; you can feel especially good about not wasting food while making such a delicious dish!

refrigerator clean-out stir fry. 

ingredients
4 cups mixed vegetables, sorted by vegetable (I used onion, carrot, celery, red bell pepper, kale)
6 ounces cooked chicken or other leftover protein, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil + 1 teaspoon sesame oil

stir fry sauce:
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (use all regular, low sodium if you do not have dark soy)
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1.5 teaspoons brown or coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper

2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

directions
Heat grapeseed and sesame oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat.

While the oil is heating, make the sauce: Add together the soy sauces, oyster sauce, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine and dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside.

Once oil is shiny but not smoking, add the ginger, garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes, until the oil is fragrant but the ingredients are not burned. Add the vegetables in order of thickness/hardiness (carrots, onion, celery first for me) and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the bell pepper and any other vegetables besides greens and cook for an additional minute.

Add the cooked protein, greens and scant 1/4 cup of the sauce with 1/4 cup water. Stirring frequently, allow the mixture to cook and thicken up over 2-3 minutes (reduce heat if the mixture is thickening too quickly/starting to boil).

Remove from pan to a serving platter along with cooked rice. Garnish with sesame seeds and/or peanuts if desired.

Serves 3-4.

NOTES: The stir fry sauce recipe will make more than you need for this recipe. Store the remainder in the refrigerator, and it will keep well for up to four weeks.

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roasted beets, cauliflower + sautéed kale over spaghetti squash.

This is the ideal meal to welcome in autumn.

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I went a little vegetable crazy at the farmer’s market over the weekend. Now that it’s the beginnings of harvest season, the offerings are so plentiful of local, fresh produce. Because of this, I walked away with items that didn’t fit into my meal planning for the week but looked so good that I couldn’t leave them behind: baby red beets, spaghetti squash, snow white cauliflower, sweet potatoes, the list goes on. I surveyed what I had, and decided to pull together a decidedly autumnal, vegan meal that looked super elegant and inviting, but was actually very easy to pull together.  Roasted beets, cauliflower and sautéed black kale over spaghetti squash.

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At risk of sounding prideful, I think I did it! This spaghetti squash topped with roasted beets, cauliflower and sautéed kale looks so impressive, is fresh, and is perfect for entertaining. A lot of the cooking time is inactive (roasting the squash and the other vegetables); the only active time is a few minutes spent sautéing the kale, seeding and pulling the squash, and assembling the dish. I used sautéed kale because I had some leftover from the week before, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. You could use spinach of any variety, swiss chard, mustard greens (although these would be spicy!), or even arugula. Use what you have! When roasting the beets and cauliflower, you can do this on one baking sheet as I did, but keep them separate, then I used two spoons to stir them around, trying to be careful to not let the beets touch the cauliflower, as the red color of the beets transfers over so easily. This was mostly for presentation and aesthetics, you don’t need to do this as pink cauliflower won’t change the flavor of the dish. 🙂

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This is vegan, gluten free, filling and uber healthy. Perfect for welcoming in fall.

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roasted beets, cauliflower + kale with spaghetti squash. 

ingredients
1 spaghetti squash
3 small beets (or 1 large), trimmed, peeled and quartered
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 bunch dinosaur/tuscan kale (can use any hardy green), stems removed and the leaves thinly sliced into ribbons
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1.5 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
zest and juice of one half a lemon

directions
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Poke two holes on each side of the squash and place on a rimmed baking sheet filled with an inch or two of water. Bake for one hour (check and if soft, remove from oven). Once the squash has cooled for five minutes, cut the squash in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Once the seeds are removed, use a fork or spoon to create the ‘spaghetti’ and pull out all the flesh into a bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Set aside.

On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, place the cut beets on one side and the cauliflower florets on the other. Drizzle the 3 tablespoons of oil over the vegetables, and season with the thyme, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the cauliflower together until the oil and seasonings are well distributed, and then do the same with the beets, keeping them separate. Wash your hands. Roast the vegetables for 20-25 minutes, stirring them once halfway though. Once the beets are pierced easily with a fork and the cauliflower is tender, they are done. Remove from oven.

While the beets and cauliflower are roasting for their last 5 minutes, heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the kale ribbons and cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly wilted. Sprinkle the zest of the lemon and the juice over the kale and turn off the heat.

To assemble: Divide the spaghetti squash amongst four shallow bowls. Top with the kale. Add the beets and cauliflower to each bowl, season with additional salt or pepper if desired and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Serves 4. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

roasted red pepper + tomato soup with gouda.

A long time ago, I wrote about this delicious soup that was served at one of the hospital cafes. It was rich and delicious, and I always looked forward to the day they served it (Wednesdays). <– Is it kind of sad that I knew the soup schedule? While I used that soup as inspiration for a vegan version, today’s version is decidedly more indulgent. I suppose that happens when you add nearly one cup of smoked gouda cheese into the soup pot. Mmmmmm.

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The weather here in NY has taken a firmly fall turn over the past week, and I am not complaining. The brisk air just begs for soup, scarves, chunky sweaters and evenings curled up under blankets. Leslie heaven, you may say!

This soup is great for a weeknight, as we are using jarred fire roasted bell peppers (you know how I love them! Evidenced here, here, and here), canned crushed tomatoes, and jarred spices. Add a few pantry and refrigerator essentials, and in less than 45 minutes, soup is ready! So easy. I served this with a simple black kale salad, but you can serve with bread or croutons. Go on, it’s worth it.

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roasted red pepper + tomato soup with gouda.
inspired by my favorite roasted red pepper gouda bisque. 

ingredients
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil 
12 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, chopped, oil reserved 
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
3 cups vegetable or low sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4-1 cup shredded gouda cheese

directions
Over medium heat, heat the grapeseed oil plus 1 tablespoon of the oil from the jarred peppers. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and let cook, 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the carrots have softened and the onions are translucent but not golden brown. Add the salt, pepper, basil, thyme, chopped peppers, tomatoes and vegetable broth and stir together to combine.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a rapid simmer/boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and partially cover, allowing soup to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat. Blend soup smooth using an immersion blender, or using a stand blender. *If using a stand blender, allow soup to cool for 5 minutes, puree in batches, and always cover the lid with a kitchen towel to protect yourself from potential hot splatter. Add the pureed soup back into the soup pot*

Once pureed, heat the soup over medium-low heat and add in the gouda. Stir frequently for 10 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and fully incorporated (you may need to increase the heat to allow the cheese to fully melt).

Ladle into bowls and serve. Serves 4 as an entree, 6 as a starter.

whole wheat penne + broccoli with fire-roasted red pepper sauce.

Easy dinner alert! Vegan dinner alert! This is definitely comfort food that is so easy to make. Pasta with roasted red pepper sauce. Yes.

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I love roasted bell peppers, and almost always have a jar of them in my fridge. I love the fire-roasted red and yellow bell peppers from Trader Joe’s, so that is what we are using today. You can use any 16 ounce jar of roasted bell peppers, provided they are of the red, yellow, or orange variety. Green bell peppers have a very different taste, and should not be used here.

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This recipe is very flexible, and you can add pretty much whatever you want to fancy it up. I went simple with some steamed broccoli mixed in to up the nutrition factor, but you could add cooked chicken, sauteed shrimp, zucchini, roasted tomatoes… all sound like delicious additions to this easy dinner! I like to use whole wheat pasta for the fiber, extra protein and nutrients, all of which help keep you fuller, longer!

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Speaking of easy, this sauce couldn’t be simpler to make. Saute up the garlic and onions, add the peppers and broth, blend, then add the spices and coconut milk and let simmer. Add pasta and broccoli, and boom! Done. Welcome to your new weeknight favorite.

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roasted red pepper pasta with broccoli.

ingredients
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 ounce jar of fire-roasted red bell peppers
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (from the carton, not the can)
1 teaspoon sugar (or agave)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 ounces steamed broccoli florets
8 ounces whole wheat penne

directions

Bring a saucier filled with water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and stems, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Remove and drain in a colander, and rinse with ice cold water to ‘shock’ the broccoli and stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced onion and garlic, and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent but not browned, and the garlic is soft and fragrant. While this is cooking, cook the pasta.

Add the diced peppers, sugar, and broth and let simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a blender and blend until smooth. Return puree to the skillet. Add the sea salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and coconut milk and stir. Stir over low heat for 5 minute to allow the mixture to come together and thicken slightly.

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, add the pasta and broccoli to the sauce and stir together. Taste and add additional salt or pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 4. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

NOTES: If the sauce seems too thin, mix together 1 teaspoon water with 1 teaspoon cornstarch until dissolved. Add to the sauce before the pasta and broccoli and whisk to thicken.

carrot + apple smoothie.

I’ve been meaning to bring you this recipe for weeks now! A few months ago, one of my dearest friends had me over for breakfast, and made the most delicious blueberry pancakes. Instead of bringing over a fruit salad or some other brunch-expected side, I decided some freshly made juice was the perfect accompaniment. Although this is technically a smoothie, as we are using whole fruits and vegetables, and not discarding the pulp, I tend to think of this as more of a juice, as it lacks the creamy/binding element of banana/avocado/yogurt. This carrot and apple juice was the ideal fresh accompaniment.

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MC loved it, and so do I! The apple and carrot provide the sweetness, the celery adds a nice vegetal element, and the lemon adds the perfect amount of brightness and punch. The ice will help thicken the smoothie and keep it extra cold. You’ll want a high speed blender to properly break down the skin of the apple and blend everything smooth.

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This is such a nice break from green smoothies, and this smoothie allows you to reap the benefits of the whole fruits and vegetables, namely fiber, which will keep you fuller, longer!

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carrot + apple smoothie.

ingredients
2 small apples/1 large apple, cored and quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
juice from one lemon
1/2 -3/4 cup water
1/2 cup ice
to sweeten: 1 tablespoon raw honey, maple syrup, or agave (optional, I do not add)
optional: fresh ginger (about 1/2 inch piece) — completely not necessary, but I love ginger with apple and carrot!

directions
Add the ice, apples, carrot, celery, lemon juice and water to a high speed blender. Blend for 60-90 seconds, or until you have a smooth consistency.

Pour into two glasses and serve immediately. If you want to make ahead, this keeps well in the refrigerator for 48 hours in an airtight jar.

Makes 2 servings.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

quinoa salad with burst cherry tomatoes + herbs.

This recipe comes from me being inspired by my newest favorite cookbook, Plenty. It is the perfect book to get inspiration from this time of year, when summer produce is so plentiful — no pun intended!

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The original incarnation of this dish had you leave the tomatoes raw and bulk out the salad with grilled sourdough bread – YUM. I will totally be making it the way it was written, but I’ve been overdoing it a little on carbs recently, so I decided to leave out the bread and just make this with the quinoa and vegetables. Still very delicious, filling, and packed full of vitamins and protein. Hooray!

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You can definitely leave the tomatoes raw if you’d like — I just prefer cherry tomatoes roasted or thrown into a very hot pan for a minute or two; they begin to just burst, and they get even sweeter. I also think the juxtaposition of them against the cold, raw cucumber is just lovely. The salad is coated simply with some red wine vinegar and a touch of olive oil, but I think the real star here are the fresh herbs. We are using both fresh mint, which I love in savory salads, and cilantro, which has that herbal bite that cannot be replicated with any other herb. I know cilantro is controversial, so feel free to sub in parsley for all the cilantro haters. If you want a decidedly Italian spin, use fresh basil.

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Like most grain or seed-based salads, this gets even better as it sits, making it great for picnics, parties, or lunches during the week. Enjoy!

quinoa salad with burst cherry tomatoes + herbs.
inspired by the grilled sourdough + quinoa salad from Plenty. 

ingredients
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup/8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 english cucumber, peeled, seed scooped out, and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1.5 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

directions
Cook the quinoa according to package directions (1 cup quinoa/2 cups water). Once cooked, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and add to a large mixing bowl.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet (stainless or cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering but not smoking, add the halved cherry tomatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomatoes just begin to burst. Remove from the pan and set them aside.

Once the quinoa is at room temperature in the bowl, add the sliced red onion, diced bell pepper and cucumber, and burst tomatoes. Stir to combine.

Add the mint, cilantro, red wine vinegar, remaining tablespoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and pepper. Toss together. Taste, adding more salt or pepper if desired. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a starter/side. Keeps well in fridge for 3-4 days.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

curried corn with red bell peppers.

As much as I love summer produce and harvest season, it’s a relatively rare occasion that I indulge in what could be considered the ubiquitous summer vegetable: ears of corn, fresh off the farm. I think corn’s status as the king of summer vegetable is rivaled only by tomatoes.

I am typically content with simple corn on the cob, smeared with butter and a healthy dash of salt, especially if it is Mexican street corn, aka the only time I allow mayonnaise anywhere near me. There are exceptions, however, and today’s recipe is a delicious exception that takes corn to a whole new place. Curried corn. 

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I was watching a travel food show a while back, and a scallops dish was highlighted, but I was intrigued with what was beneath the grilled scallops: curried corn. It sounded so different and decadent, and I knew I had to try it at home. We’re using plain yogurt in place of heavy cream, which is healthier and an added source of protein. You’ll want to use plain yogurt, preferably full-fat or 2%; you need the milk fat for right texture/creaminess. You can use either mild or hot curry powder: I like mild for this.

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This makes a fabulous, interesting side dish that is sure to be gobbled up. I served it alongside some wild shrimp, quickly sauteed with sea salt and pepper. A perfect late summer meal!

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curried corn with red bell pepper.

ingredients
4 ears fresh corn
1 medium sweet red  bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of grassfed butter
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/4 cup plain yogurt
cilantro, optional, to garnish

directions
Heat butter in a medium/large skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted and lightly sizzling. Add the shallots and bell pepper and saute, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes, or until shallots are translucent and peppers begin to soften.

Add the corn, curry powder, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Let cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the corn is cooked through (you may have some golden spots on the corn). Add the yogurt and stir consistently until the yogurt is well incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the sea salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from pan and serve, garnishing with cilantro if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible*

 

 

copycat Trader Joe’s couscous + arugula salad with pimento dressing.

As much as I absolutely love cooking and cannot fathom a lifestyle in which I wasn’t enchanted and enthralled with recipes, ingredients and kitchen tools, even I get too tired to cook from time to time. Sometimes I just crave a prepared item, whether it’s takeout from a restaurant or a prepped meal from a grocery store. When I’m in those moods, one of my favorite places to stop off at is Trader Joe’s — I love their prepared salads, they have something for everyone! My most favorite is their lemon chicken and couscous salad with arugula and a to-die-for roasted red pepper dressing. I always add extra arugula to it; as the portion they provide is a bit paltry, and you know how I love my salad greens. I figured I had to be able to make this on my own, and a quick search on TJ’s website yielded the ingredients of the salad.

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I played around with what I had, and voila! A salad that is delicious cold or warm (the couscous, that is), and it keeps so well in the fridge for lunches during the week! Just pack the arugula separate from the couscous mixture and the dressing. Alternatively, you can do what I do, a little riff off of mason jar salads: dressing on the bottom (about 2 tablespoons), a cup of the couscous salad, and a generous handful of arugula on top. Remove arugula to a plate when it’s time to eat, shake to mix up the dressing and couscous, pour over the greens and dig in!

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You guys are going to LOVE this dressing — it’s primarily made up of roasted red peppers and they give such amazing flavor and a vibrant orangey red color. You could even serve up just the couscous and dressing for a great party salad; it’ll hold up so well. You can also serve with some pan seared or grilled chicken on the side a la the original, but I kept it vegan. Don’t skip the mint; the freshness is not to be missed! Enjoy!

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couscous + arugula salad with pimento dressing.
inspired by Trader Joe’s; dressing recipe courtesy of Inside Karen’s Kitchen

12 ounces baby arugula
2 cups cooked Israeli couscous
2 cups cooked quinoa (any color)
1 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup dried cherries, currants or cranberries
1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup mint, minced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon dried turmeric
splash of cider vinegar (about a teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil

roasted red pepper dressing:
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon agave
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

directions
Cook the Israeli couscous according to package directions. Fluff, and set aside in a large bowl to cool. Cook the quinoa according to package directions, fluff, and add to the bowl with the couscous. Stir occasionally, allowing them to cool. Set aside.

Make the dressing: Add the roasted red peppers, rice vinegar, lemon juice, zest, water, agave, garlic, salt, pepper and oil and blend in a high speed blender for 60-90 seconds until the mix is smooth. Pour into an airtight container and set aside.

Once the couscous and quinoa are just slightly warm or at room temperature, add in the red bell pepper, carrots, dried cherries, mint, parsley, cider vinegar, turmeric, smoked paprika and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Toss well to combine.

To serve: Add dressing to the couscous salad and mix well (I typically add 2 tablespoons to each 1 cup serving). Serve alongside or over baby arugula.

Serves 6 (one cup of couscous salad + one handful of baby arugula).

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

easy refrigerator dill pickles.

These are the fastest, easiest dill pickles EVER. E.V.E.R. Are you hearing me? As in, I didn’t have regular vinegar and went out at 9:30pm on a Sunday and still came home and made them-fast and easy. Are you with me? Good.

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I was at a farmer’s market over the weekend, and kept seeing those little wrinkly pickling cucumbers that were calling out to me. “Make dill pickles” they said. “You’ve been craving pickles”. So I picked up a basket before I left deciding that I would make refrigerator pickles. Sanitizing jars and boiling brine and processing in a water bath was just not on my agenda. Ah, laziness.

I love pickles of all kinds: beets, cauliflower, cucumbers, beans, fish… all very good in my book. A few years ago my dad and I got really into canning and spent several Sundays in a row making all kinds of yummy things, and the whole process was demystified for us both. Growing up, late summer was synonymous with my mom standing over the kitchen counter preserving her garden’s bounty. As I child and teenager this seemed odd to me (why can tomatoes when I can just go the store and buy them?). Now I know how amazing it is to taste a farm fresh tomato or peach in the dead of winter.

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Anyway, back to these easy peasy refrigerator pickles. As awesome as shelf stable canning is, it’s a day long endeavor. Enter this simple, alternative method. All you need is vinegar, sea or kosher salt for a simple brine (no heating required!), cucumbers, some fresh dill and boom! Pickles. Sounds too good to be true, but the hardest part is waiting 2 days before you crack open a jar. Waiting a week is best, but patience is not my strong suit. These keep well in the fridge for several weeks, but if you’re anything like me, they’ll be gone shortly after they’re opened. The level of vinegar will worry you, as it did me, but trust me, this works. The salt and vinegar will draw out moisture from the cucumbers, and voila! Just give the jar or jars a shake or two every time you open the fridge door. Magic will happen in that refrigerator. Trust me.

easiest refrigerator dill pickles.
adapted from Serious Eats. 

ingredients
10-12 kirby cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thin
3/4 cup white vinegar
3 teaspoons sea salt
2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, torn or roughly chopped

directions
Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the washed and dried cucumbers into 1/8 inch thick slices.

In a large jar, add all the cucumber slices. Pour in the vinegar, salt and tuck in the dill. If your jar is too small to fit all the cucumbers (as mine was), I suggest mixing the salt/vinegar/dill separately, and then adding appropriate amounts to the jars (half as much to a jar that is approximately half the size, for example).

Place the jars in the refrigerator, and give them a shake every time you remember/open the fridge door/every hour or so. They will be ready in about 8 hours, but try and let them hang out for 48-72 hours. Please? And then? Devour. Now, or three weeks for now.

summer squash pizza.

In case you were like me and didn’t know, zucchini pizza is definitely a thing. A very easy, very delicious dish that is oh-so-perfect for late summer evenings. A side note: how is late summer already?! Wasn’t it just Memorial Day? I suppose that old adage is true, time really does speed up as we get older. But I digress. Today’s recipe is absolutely perfect for your overwhelming supply of fresh zucchini and yellow squash. If you have a garden, I’m sure you’re overloaded with it. If you’re like me and get yours at the farmer’s market, well, they are practically giving them away! This is the perfect use for them. Hello, it’s pizza!

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I used a mix of yellow squash and zucchini, but you can use all yellow, all green, or a combo like I did — whatever is easiest for you. I used gruyere, as the nuttiness adds so much flavor to this pizza topping. If you can’t find gruyere or want a less expensive option, I would use swiss. I would stay away from fresh or packaged mozzarella, as it’ll be a little too bland for this recipe. If you have any fresh herbs in your garden like chives, oregano or basil, go ahead and add them! I particularly think fresh basil torn over the top of the cooked pizza would be divine.

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The squash and cheese mixture should be a little heavier at the edges, where the oven will brown it first. I noticed that I should have rotated the pizza halfway during the cooking process, and will do so next time for a more even all over cook. If the pizza seems a little limp, it may be because you didn’t squeeze out enough moisture from the zucchini before mixing in the cheese; make sure all excess moisture is removed.

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This is before going into the oven… sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, if using.

Cut after removing from the oven, and serve immediately. This is also delicious at room temperature or even straight from the fridge; making it ideal for leftovers or for easy entertaining!

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summer squash pizza.
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

ingredients
2 pounds of zucchini or summer squash of your choice (about four small/medium squash), shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic gloves, crushed and finely minced
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups gruyere cheese
3 tablespoons whole wheat panko
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1 pizza dough recipe (recipe below)

pizza dough recipe
2 cups minus 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoons sea salt
2/3 cup tepid water

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, yeast and salt until well combined. Add the water, and mix for about 30 seconds, using a wooden spoon or your hands, until well combined. Cover, and let rest for 2 hours, or until the dough has more than doubled in size.  Proceed with recipe below.

directions
Shred the zucchini and yellow squash with a food processor fitted with the grating blade or grate on the large hole box grater. Add to a colander nested inside of a mixing bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes or longer, tossing occasionally. With a clean dish towel, add the squash to it and drain well.

Add the squeezed squash to a large bowl.

Add the gruyere, crushed red pepper, salt and minced garlic to the drained squash and mix to combine.

Spread the tablespoon of olive oil on a half sheet baking pan (9×13) and with oiled fingertips, add the pizza dough. Work the dough with your fingers (it will be delicate) into a thin, even piece, nudging the dough towards the ends of the pan. If the dough tears (mine did), simply pinch together. An even shape is not necessary or easily achieved, you just want to ensure the dough to be an even thickness.

Top the dough with the squash and cheese mixture, piling the mixture a little thicker at the edges, as it will brown first. Sprinkle panko and parmesan, if using, all over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking after 12, and rotating the pan halfway if needed. Remove from pan, and cut into squares, serving immediately.

Serves 4-6.

*Please use organic/local vegetables and cheese as appropriate*