roasted butternut squash + sweet potatoes with agrodolce sauce.

As if roasted vegetables could even get any better, we are drizzling them with a sweet and spicy argodolce sauce. Mmmmmmmmm.

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You can use any vegetables you like for this: I used butternut squash and sweet potatoes with an onion because they were what I had hanging out in the fridge. Beets, cauliflower, white potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts; all would be fantastic. But let’s be honest: this is really all about the sauce.

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Argodolce is so versatile! I first had it spooned overtop pan fried pork chops, and have found many ways to serve it up since then. It’s simple to make: just balsamic vinegar, honey, rosemary, garlic, and a hint of crushed red pepper flake. And butter, of course. Butter is the key to making sauces velvety smooth and luscious when you add it in at the end of the cooking process.

The argodolce will continue to thicken after you reduce it, so I like to drizzle it atop the roasted vegetables right away, but you can always serve alongside the vegetables and let everyone dip/drizzle to their liking.

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It’s hard not to eat the whole pan of these. Trust me!

roasted butternut squash + sweet potatoes with argodolce.
agrodolce adapted from Everyday Italian. 

ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 butternut squash (about 1.5 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and black pepper
chives, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)

agrodolce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup raw honey
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon butter

directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, add the cut squash and potatoes, onions, sea salt, pepper and olive oil. Stir well to combine and then spread out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan, as the vegetables will steam, not roast.

Add to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring once, until golden and tender.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the sauce: In a small saucier, add the vinegar, honey, garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium heat, allowing the sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half. Once the sauce is reduced and will coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until it has incorporated.

Place the roasted vegetables to a platter and drizzle the argodolce overtop. Garnish with chives if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 as a side. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

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turmeric roasted cauliflower.

After I made those cauliflower steaks last week (yum!), I was left with a sizable amount of a cauliflower florets leftover (the cauliflower I had was positively huge!). I love, love, love roasted cauliflower, and thought it would be perfect side dish to snack on this week. I typically roast cauliflower very simply, with just olive oil, salt and pepper, but decided to give this dish a spiced up version.

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I love turmeric, and it is so very good for you. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, and is often used is Indian cooking. It has a bright deep yellow color, and besides being super healthy, the flavor is earthy and fragrant, with hints of ginger and citrus. I’m combining turmeric with ground cumin, with is warming and spicy but not hot, resulting in an aromatic flavor combination that will go beautifully with the nuttiness that arises when you roast cauliflower.

I line my baking sheet with foil, as the turmeric can stain, and the foil allows for easy cleanup! Eat as a side dish, or mix in with any cooked grain, or in a bowl by itself for the main dish, like me!

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turmeric roasted cauliflower.

ingredients
1/2 large or 1 small head of cauliflower, broken down into large florets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, add the cauliflower florets, drizzle in the olive oil, ground turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Add to the pan and spread out in one even layer.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway to ensure browning on all sides. Cauliflower florets are done when they can be pierced easily with a fork.

Remove to a platter and season with additional salt/pepper if needed.

Serves 4. *Please use all 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*

 

 

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.

roasted sweet potatoes with lemongrass creme fraiche.

I was recently gifted an absolutely delightful cookbook, titled Plenty. It is the cookbook from the restaurant Ottolenghi, and it is a vegetable-centric tome. It was purchased because the gifter said “I saw this artful, complicated, ridiculous photo on the cover, and it just knew you would appreciate it”. And I do! The book is organized by vegetable/vegetable family, and there are so many amazing recipes. Today I bring you one from that book: roasted sweet potatoes with lemongrass creme fraiche. YES!

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Doesn’t that just sound delicious? We are taking the roasted sweet potato, a standby item in my kitchen, and amping it up with a dusting of ground coriander for spice, and pairing with this utterly fragrant sauce on the side. You guys. Lemongrass is like if lemons and limes got together and had a very elegant baby. Pairing it with spicy ginger, citrusy lime and the creamy, velvety and slightly sour taste of creme fraiche? Forget it. Divine. You can absolutely use 2% plain greek yogurt in place of the creme fraiche if you either can’t find it, or are looking for a more affordable option.

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I apologize for the photos you guys, it was super rainy and dark on the day I made them, but they were too good not to share! These lasted about 5 minutes in my home, and I’m willing to bet the same goes for you! Serve these up as an appetizer for entertaining, or as a main dish with a little baby arugula on the side drizzled with olive oil. So simple!

roasted sweet potatoes with lemongrass creme fraiche.
recipe from Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty. 

ingredients
3-4 sweet potatoes equaling 2 pounds
1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil
3/4 cup creme fraiche (can sub 2% plain greek yogurt)
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 lemongrass stalk, very thinly sliced
zest and juice of one lime
dash of sea salt

directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and dry thoroughly. Slice each potato into spears, cutting each potato in half lengthwise, and then cutting each half into 6 even spears. Add cut spears into a large bowl and add 1.5 teaspoons of coriander, sea salt and oil. Mix well and add seasoned potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet.

Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, turning the potato slices after 10-12 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, assemble the sauce. Add the creme fraiche, lemongrass, ginger, lime zest and juice and mix well. Taste, and add the sea salt, adding more if needed.

Once potatoes are fork tender and crisp, add to a plate, being sure to only set them in a single row (piling will steam them, and cause the roasted potatoes to soften) and serve with the creme fraiche immediately.

Serves 4 as a side/appetizer.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

basic, perfect polenta.

I’ve been trying to get better at meal planning for the week, as I already make about 24 stops at Wegmans/Trader Joes/public market/natural foods store each week. It never fails, I inevitably forget an ingredient or pick up a quick meal. I always have the best intentions to do a weekly shop…

A few weeks ago, I picked up some hot turkey Italian sausage at a great price, but never had time to make it, so I promptly tossed it in the freezer. When I did said weekly meal prep, I decided to cook up that sausage with some marinara. I wasn’t in mood for pasta, so I decided to make the classic Italian side dish, polenta.

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Mm, polenta. Have you ever tried it? Polenta is not for weeknight cooking. Classic polenta is made from humble cornmeal, and it takes a while for the cornmeal grains to swell up and cook properly to become tender, yielding that creamy finished texture, not unlike grits.

Polenta is remarkably simple, in both technique and number of ingredients. I used homemade stock for mine, but if you use store bough stock, please try and buy low sodium, as you’ll want to adjust the salt you use. Most recipes have you add the cornmeal to boiling water, a la quinoa or pasta, but not here! I think that contributes to the risk of lumpy polenta; no thank you! We want smooth and creamy: starting both cold and lots and lots of whisking will alleviate that risk.

Leftovers can be cut into squares or triangles and fried crisp in a pan with some oil; you’ll see the leftover polenta will thicken up considerably.

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Serving this under sliced Italian sausage and marinara sauce was a hit, and a delightful change from pasta. This homey, cozy side dish is perfect for short January days.

basic, perfect polenta.
adapted from New York Times Cooking. 

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ingredients
4-5 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon (I have used an Italian cheese blend with mozzarella, fontina, romano with success).

directions
In a deep saucepan or saucier (2-3 quart), combine the stock, cornmeal, olive oil, salt and pepper over medium high heat. Whisk often (consistently, if not constantly), until the mixture comes to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Polenta mixture should still be slightly loose. Partially cover and cook for at least 45 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes or so. When polenta becomes too thick to whisk, stir with a wooden spoon, adding the additional cup of stock if needed (I always add 5 cups in total). Polenta is done when it pulls away from the side of the pot, and individual grains are tender and creamy.

Turn off heat and gently mix 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into polenta until cheese has melted. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to thicken; stir and taste for salt before transferring to a serving bowl. Top polenta with about 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.

Serves 4-6.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

green beans with caramelized onions + toasted almonds.

I think green beans may be my favorite vegetable. They are so versatile, easy to prepare, and a real crowd pleaser. I don’t think I can think of anyone I know that doesn’t like them… can you?

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This recipe is time consuming, as caramelizing onions cannot be rushed! However, once the onions are done, this recipe couldn’t be simpler! Promise. Blanch the beans, toast the almonds, toss everything together, DONE. The onions provide a sweetness and richness, and the almonds add a crunchy, toasty note. I love recipes like this: just a few ingredients work synergistically to create a rich, complex dish.

I brought this to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house, and one of the guests asked me for the recipe, as her 14 month old daughter kept asking for more beans. Baby approved? We’ve got a winner on our hands.

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green beans with caramelized onions.

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ingredients
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
2 sweet onion, sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted, grassfed butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/2 cup sliced almonds
sea salt and black pepper

directions
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Slice the onions 1/4 inch thick, and add to the skillet along with 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, stirring often for 40-50 minutes, or until often are soft and lightly golden, being careful to not burn/crisp them. Add the second two tablespoons of butter halfway through the cooking process. Add the thyme leaves during the last five minutes (35-40 minute mark).

While the onions are cooking, heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced almonds and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of sea salt. Add beans and blanch for 4-5 minutes, until crisp tender. Remove and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve the green color.

In a large bowl, add the onion mixture, toasted almonds, and green beans and toss together. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Serves 8.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

brown rice + pumpkin “risotto”.

Oh, hi there! How are you? Sorry for my unexpected silence; life got in the way and I ended using my kitchen for incredibly uninspiring food: lots of egg white omelettes, toast, grilled chicken topped salads and copious amounts of hummus were consumed. In a nutshell: life has had me pretty exhausted. And it seems that fall has arrived while I’ve been quiet! Hello, chilled evenings and early mornings. Hello to the Harvest Moon and the incredibly vast, clear black sky. And hello to you, grey, dreary, rainy days. I’ve missed you, too. Yes, I know I’m probably the only one, but I love grey, rainy days. Rain is cleansing, evocative, romantic, even.  To usher this cool weather in, I have a super seasonal recipe that is a fun play on risotto, without the near constant stirring of hot broth into the rice: pumpkin risotto with sage. We’re using brown arborio rice to up the nutrition of this meatless main dish. The brand I use can be found here, and I can usually find it in my main grocery store.

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This risotto recipe was calling my name; although it’s a lengthy recipe, much of the time is inactive! You can just a pop a lid on the pot, set a timer, and go about your business for 35-40 minutes, and then come back to finish it off.

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Pumpkin and sage are quintessentially autumnal, and the former provides such a rich creaminess to the dish. I garnished the finished dish with some local, raw gruyere-like cheese that I picked up a festival a few weeks ago, but you can use any hard cheese that you like: pecorino, parmesan, you name it! You can also just leave it off for a dairy free and vegan friendly dish.

Enjoy friends; I loved this. The ideal cocktail for this dish is coming up next. 🙂

pumpkin + brown rice risotto.
adapted from healthy seasonal recipes. 

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ingredients
1.5 cups brown arborio rice
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium/medium-large sweet onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I like an oaky Chardonnay, but any dry, crisp white will do)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2-3 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped, plus additional whole leaves for garnish
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup hard cheese, grated (optional)

directions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and garlic. Saute the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and fragrant.

Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice becomes slightly toasted and translucent in spots on the grains of rice. Add the wine and let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often until almost all of the wine has evaporated. Add in vegetable broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 35-40 minutes.

Remove lid, stir and add in pumpkin, cinnamon, and sage leaves. Stirring often, increase heat to medium and let cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring often to let thicken and the flavors combine and to let the rice continue to soften. Once the rice is soft and everything is well combined, taste and add in additional salt and pepper if desired (I added more of both).

Divide amongst four bowls, garnish with cheese and whole sage leaves and serve immediately.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.

Can I give you one last hot weather recipe before the summer ends? I know it’s after Labor Day, but it was 90 degrees here yesterday, so I think it’s appropriate. This is an old school recipe, too. Cucumber salad. Not just any cucumber salad. A cucumber salad that teeters ever so slightly on the verge of too sweet, but yet somehow manages to stay just perfectly balanced between sweet and tangy. Ergo, the name of ‘sweet and tangy cucumber salad’ was born. I’m so clever.

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I received a container of this from my mom when she was visiting, courtesy of my grandmother, who sent it over from a picnic. My aunt was the one who had actually made it. I thought the original incarnation of this recipe was too sweet, so I cut back on the amount of sugar and oil, which is reflected in the recipe below. The onion becomes milder as it sits in the dressing, so I recommend making this at least an hour prior to serving.

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Take this to any end of summer picnics, and watch it disappear. Sometimes simple, family recipes really do take the cake.

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.
courtesy of my Aunt Terri’s recipe. image

ingredients 
2 cucumbers, peeled
1 onion, very thinly sliced
dressing:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon celery seed

directions
Combine the sugar, vinegar, oil and celery seed into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Turn off and let cool. Set aside.

Peel cucumbers (if desired) and thinly slice and equal amount of cucumbers and sweet onions. Cut about an 1/8 inch thick. In a large bowl, combine the cooled dressing and the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve chilled.

Note: The onion’s sharp flavor will decrease as it marinates in the dressing.

Serves 6 as a side.

**Please use ingredients wherever possible** 

 

green beans with roasted bell peppers.

This recipe just epitomizes summer to me. Easy, fast, fresh and bursting with flavors, thanks to local vegetables, adorned simply with good olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. That’s it. An incredibly simple side dish that is sure to become a mainstay on your dinner table, just like it is on mine.

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The most difficult part of this recipe is the blanching of the beans. You want to cook them until they are crisp tender, and then shock them in ice water, immediately stopping the cooking process. Once they are cool, you toss with the roasted peppers and onions and season with an extra drizzle of olive oil and pepper. So. Easy.

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This is great for a summer potluck or picnic, as it’s equally good warm or at room temperature.

green beans with roasted bell peppers.
barely adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris.

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ingredients
1.5 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 sweet onion, large dice
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 red bell pepper, large dice
sea salt
black pepper
2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the ice bath. In a large bowl, fill with cold water and 3-4 cups of ice. Once water is boiling, add green beans and blanch for about 4 minutes. Remove from pot and plunge into the ice bath, stirring to make sure all bean are submerged. Once they are cool, remove and drain.

Arrange the peppers and onions on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper until seasoned to your liking. Mix together until they are well combined. Roast for 12-15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven.

In a large bowl, gently toss the green beans and the peppers and onions together; drizzle with remaining one tablespoon of oil. Season with extra salt and/or pepper if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**