Sunday, April 29, 2007

This Week's Menu

Because we now receive our CSA box on Wednesdays, I no longer find the need to buy all of our ingredients for the entire week on Sundays. I think I'm usually supposed to receive a list of the produce in the box on Friday, but I didn't this week, so this menu is based on what I have left plus items we picked up at the farmer's market today. I'm branching out this week by making more creative and personal recipes. I'll post any if they are good. This list may change as I learn what else our week has in store.

Parsley Pasta over Arugula
Miso-rubbed Salmon with Swiss Chard and Couscous
Crepes filled with Smoked Salmon, Red Potatoes, Asparagus, topped with a White Sauce


Velvet Vegetable Soup with Summer Squash, Gruyere and Arugula Pizzas


Banana Bread

Mini Pinto and Broccoli Tacos

My husband mentioned perhaps stopping for Mexican yesterday while walking to our small downtown street (in Alameda, CA), mainly because he wanted a Margaritas, but I thought of beans and corn tortillas. These tacos were inspired by our excursion on a beautiful day and by what we had available to eat in our kitchen. Paired with a good beer, these tacos are nice when you want something satisfying.

Mini Tacos

Mini Pinto and Broccoli Tacos
Serves 4 (2 mini tacos each)

Canola oil
8 corn tortillas
1 14 oz. can low sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
1 cup shredded jack cheese
8 leaves shredded baby lettuce
Salsa Fresca

Warm a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add broccoli. Cook until bright green. Add beans and cook until heated through.

Coat heated griddle with oil and add tortillas. Fry until slightly browned on each side.

Top fried tortillas with bean mixture, cheese, lettuce, and salsa. Serve with fruit.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Salsa Fresca

We received some spring onions in our CSA box last week, and I had never cooked with them before. They are very fresh and delicate tasting. If you don't have spring onions, you can substitute it with scallions or with 1/4 of a large, white onion.

Salsa Fresca

Salsa Fresca

1 spring onion, finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Mix ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

Fava Bean, Tomato and Feta Salad

Fava Bean Salad

The first time I bought fava beans, I wondered why anyone would ever want to pay for them. Out here, they are expensive, at least $2/pound with the pods. It takes some time to de-pod them, and then they need to be blanched and de-skinned, as well. What you're left with is about a fifth of what you started with.

However, I like to make a ritual out of de-podding the favas. It's a great activity for the family. It gives an excuse for everyone to sit together and chat while doing something useful, something that will become a fantastic meal! It builds community into your food. I also like doing this outside in the sun while enjoying some lemonade. Try it sometime!

This salad beautifully melds the flavor of the favas with the saltiness of feta and olives and the freshness of tomatoes. My husband keeps asking for more!

Fava Bean, Tomato and Feta Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish

2 pounds shelled fresh fava beans (or 12 oz. frozen)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 ounces feta cheese
12 black olives, pitted
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanch de-podded fava beans in boiling water for several minutes until the skins are soft. Pop the fava beans out of the skins into a medium bowl. Add other ingredients and mix well. Serve.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Strawberry, Clementine, and Passion Fruit Salad

This is a lovely, colorful, fragrant, and flavorful fruit salad, which is good enough to be called dessert.

Strawberry, Clementine, and Passion Fruit Salad

Strawberry, Clementine, and Passion Fruit Salad

24 strawberries, quartered
6 clementines, peeled and cut into sections
2 passion fruits, cut in half and centers spooned out
1/2 cup dry white wine

Place strawberries and clementines in a large bowl and spoon passion fruit on top. Pour wine over fruit and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

Artichoke Phyllo Pie

I hosted a birthday brunch this past weekend, and this Artichoke Phyllo Pie was the favorite recipe, probably because of the cheese and butter content. The amazing quality to this pie is actually the small amount of broccoli added, which enhances the flavor of the artichokes. I even had a guest who hates broccoli but loves this dish. One guest said that this was the "best thing ever!" I warn you though, it IS fattening and should only be prepared when serving a large group of guests. Otherwise, you'll be tempted to eat it all! I have to thank one of my favorite cookbooks for this recipe, Heaven's Banquet.

Artichoke Phyllo Pie

Artichoke Phyllo Pie
Serves 10-12

Vegetable Ingredients

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced fennel or celery
1 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
Bragg's amino acids or salt

Filling Ingredients
1 pounds ricotta cheese
2 cups grated Gruyere or Swiss Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
2 1/2 cups sliced, cooked artichoke hearts (I used the frozen ones and let them thaw)
Black pepper

Pastry Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pound filo pastry

To prepare the filling:
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the fennel or celery, broccoli, and parsley. Sprinkle liquid seasoning or salt, cover, and saute on low heat until tender, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes).

Mix together the ricotta, grated cheeses, and arrowroot or cornstarch. Mix in the sauteed vegetables and the artichoke hearts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 C). Melt the butter with the olive oil over low heat. Using a pastry brush, coat the bottom and sides of a 10 or 12-inch springform pan with the oil mixture. Lay a sheet of filo in the pan, draping the edges of the pastry over the sides. Brush with a few gentle swipes of the oil. Lay another sheet of filo in the pan with the long edges drapes in another direction. Continue to fill the pan with filo, brushing each sheet with the oil, until half the pastry has been used.

Spoon the filling inside and spread evenly.

Lay the remaining sheets of filo on top, brushing each sheet with the oil. Turn up all the edges over the pie. It should look rough and rustic. If there is any remaining oil, pour a little over the top.

Bake until the filo is golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Allow to stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Undo the sides of the springform. I serve the pie on the bottom of the springform pan and on another plate. To serve, cut into wedges with a serrated knife.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Buying Seafood - Smart Consumerism

Keeping to the Earth Day spirit, I'd like to make another post about food consumerism. Because this site is for Pescetarians, I thought a post about seafood would be fitting.

There are many things you should be aware of when buying fish concerning your health and the environment's health. Such factors include pollution, over-fishing, high mercury levels, invasive species, endagered species, etc. And to make things even more complicated, the varieties of fish which fall into these categories changes all the time. Fortunately, the Monterey Bay Aquarium frequently publishes pocket-sized guides by region for smart seafood shoppers. You can find one for you at this link: This is what they claim:

Our Seafood Watch regional guides contain the latest information on sustainable seafood choices available in different regions of the U.S. Our "Best Choices" are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Seafood to "Avoid" are overfished and/or fished or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment. You can view the guides online or download a pocket-size version.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This Week's Menu

Recently, some of my coworkers and I restarted our vegetarian work lunch group. There are four of us, and we cook for each other once a week, so that 4 days of lunch are planned for us for the week. We've been doing it for two weeks so far, and it's been great. Because of this, it isn't necessary to plan more than one lunch item because we'll have plenty of leftovers from that one lunch menu and the dinners for the week.

Beyond that, I've been enjoying experimenting more with whatever is lying around in the fridge or pantry, so if these don't seem like enough, there's always something that can be made, as long as you have your pantry fully stocked with staples.

Fish with Fava Bean Salad and Whole Wheat Bread
Cauliflower and Pistacchio Quesadillas
Vegetarian Chili
Barley Soup
Lobster Ravioli

Lentil and Parsnip Burgers with Curried Ricotta Sauce and Fresh Romaine-Tomato Salad


Honey-Wheat Bagels and Onion and Grain Bagels
Whole Wheat English Muffins
To Top the Bagels & Muffins: Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Blueberry Jam, Strawberry Jam, Cream Cheese

Friday, April 13, 2007

Spring Risotto



My mom always said that there are several dishes that Italians use for leftovers, and frittata and risotto are two of them. Any vegetables or meats left over from other recipes can be easily added to the rice with any kind of cheese, and you have a one-pot meal! I this case, we had lots of leeks and broccoli left over. The key to a good risotto is to use a high quality arborio rice, heat up your broth in advance (NEVER use a cold broth), continuously stir the rice, and don't add too much broth at once. The end result should be creamy rice which takes to cheese VERY well. I flavored this risotto with less cheese and topped it with pesto instead. We served it with spinach salad and sun-dried tomato tofu sausages.


Spring Risotto
Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large leeks, thinly sliced
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 1/2 cups broth or seasoned water
2 small heads of broccoli, coarsely chopped

Pesto ingredients (I'm not entirely certain of the measurements, adjust to your taste):
1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add leeks and saute until soft. Add arborio rice and cook until lightly toasted and covered in oil.


Add wine and stir while simmering until the wine has evaporated. Add broth by the 1/2 cup and stir until the liquid has evaporated before adding another 1/2 cup. Do this until all the liquid is gone. It should take about 25 minutes. Add more or less broth if needed. About half way through the cooking, add the chopped broccoli.

While the risotto is cooking, combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined and resembles a course paste.

When the rice is cooked (there should no longer be a bright white center in each rice grain), turn off the heat and add the pesto. Stir until combined. Top with more Parmesan, if desired.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cherry Raspberry Crisp

My husband and I had a craving for dessert but had very little to work with in our pantry. The basic recipe for the crisp comes from Heaven's Banquet. As you may already know, I LOVE this book. The section on crisps gives several ideas for fillings and toppings, so you can pick and choose to make your own creation. For this version, we used frozen organic cherries and raspberries with an oatmeal topping. We ate it with a side of nonfat yogurt instead of ice cream to keep things healthier. Eating it this way, the dish can also be eaten for breakfast!

Cherry and Raspberry Crisp

Cherry Raspberry Crisp
Serves 4

3 cups frozen cherries
2 cups frozen raspberries
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees. Butter a 9 inch round casserole dish. Mix all ingredients for the filling together and spread it in the casserole dish. Process all topping ingredients, except oats, in food processor until the mixture resembles course meal. Add oats and mix by hand. Crumble topping over the fruit. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the fruit is tender, about 45 minutes (or an hour if using a glass dish).

Russian Kale, Fennel, and Garbanzo Soup

A treat made with the leftover vegetables in our refrigerator. I always thought caraway seeds and cabbage where meant to be together. The fennel in the soup accentuates this.

Russian Kale, Fennel, and Garbanzo Soup

Russian Kale, Fennel, and Garbanzo Soup
Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 large leek, finely sliced
1 bunch Russian kale, thinly sliced
3 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans (or 2 cans, if you like more beans)
1 potato, peeled and diced
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat olive oil in a stock pot. Add fennel, red pepper, and leeks and saute until fennel starts to be translucent. Add potato and caraway seeds and cook until potato turns slightly translucent around the edges. Add kale and cabbage, and cook until cabbage begins to tunr translucent. Add parsley and veggie broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

These are absolutely delicious! They look like chicken nuggets but are actually made from dried black-eyed peas which have been soaked but not cooked in advance.

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Chard

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Soy flour
Oil for deep-frying

Soak beans overnight in at least 3 cups of water. Drain, rinse, and process the beans in a food processor with the salt and baking powder. Add water to process until they are ground to a paste. If necessary, add soy flour in small amounts until the batter is thick enough to be dropped by the teaspoonful from a spoon. Fry the batch by the teaspoonful until browned on both sides in a pan filled with oil. Serve immediately!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Earth Day and Community-Sustained Agriculture

With Earth Day upon us, I've decided to do something special this year, join a CSA (Community-Sustained Agriculture). Living in California, we have the benefit of being surrounded by many wonderful farms and delicious produce, so why buy produce from the grocery store where much of it comes from abroad? We already frequent the local farmers market, but another good deal is to sign up with a CSA where you pay a flat price weekly, monthly, or annually for a box full of fresh, organic produce. The profits go directly to the farmers and you are guaranteed to be eating something locally produced. In Alameda, CA, we have the following farms to choose from, as far as I know, which will deliver to our city: Eatwell Farm, Full Belly Farm, Farm Fresh to You, Eat With the Seasons. The prices are very much the same, but each farm offers different kinds of produce and delivery methods. I'm still deciding what will work best for us. Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Penne with a Chickpea-Tomato Sauce

Leftover Penne with Chickpea-Tomato Sauce and Pesto and Tomato Focaccia

The sauce for this pasta is actually a recipe for chickpeas to be served on their own. In my Italian mother's household, pasta and beans are a staple for lunch, so she decided to use this recipe for chickpeas as a sauce for penne or shells. They're statisfying and include carbs and protein. Here, we served it with salad and two different kinds of focaccia. It heats well as leftovers.


* 1 1/3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
* 1 tablespoon dried oregano
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
* 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
* salt and ground black pepper to taste


1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and stir in the onion, garlic, and oregano. Cook and stir about 10 minutes, until onions are tender.
2. Mix tomatoes into the skillet, and cook until heated through. Mix in wine, and continue cooking about 15 minutes, until thickened.
3. Stir garbanzo beans and feta cheese into the skillet, and cook 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and allow to cool about 5 minutes before serving.
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