Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spring Quinoa Bowl with Asparagus and Peas

Although I could singlehandedly stage an all-night Talkathon with the amount I have to say about my love for winter root vegetables, these balmy 60 degree days have got me seriously craving some springtime fare. Signatures like peas, asparagus, and radishes won’t be available locally until the beginning of May, but this Spring Quinoa Bowl with Asparagus and Peas totally satisfies the yearning. (New mantra: if you can’t shop locally, shop for an ingredient list that can be exclusively filled at Trader Joe’s). Somewhere in between a salad and a grain bowl, this hearty dish showcases spring’s best produce offerings, plus a major protein boost from chickpeas and hard-boiled egg. Finished with a lemony-mustard vinaigrette, the bright, citrusy flavors create the perfect palate as we eagerly anticipate spring’s arrival.

Lunch? Dinner? Likely both, as this verdant bowl begs to be doubled or tripled, a big-batch dish for sure. Substitutions are highly encouraged: swapping is the name of the game here. Sick of quinoa? Try farro or orzo instead. Craving something nutty? Forget pepitas, and garnish with chopped almonds or toasted pistachios. Looking for an alternate protein source? Try subbing feta cheese for chickpeas, or shrimp for the hard-boiled egg. Mint would go beautifully instead of parsley. And because I just presented you with a trendy, whole-ingredient grain bowl: yes, sliced avocado would be a lovely addition too.
Spring Quinoa Bowl with Asparagus and Peas (adopted from Two Peas & Their Pod)
Serves 2


For the bowl:
½ cup raw quinoa
6 oz asparagus (about 10 thick spears), trimmed
½ cup English peas
¾ cup chickpeas
4 radishes, sliced
¼ cup toasted pepitas
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 large handfuls of arugula (about 4 cups)

For the dressing:
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp honey
Salt & pepper

1.     Roast the asparagus. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out a sheet of tin foil over a baking pan, and toss asparagus with 1 tsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes (less for thin spears). After they’ve cooled, chop spears into 1-inch pieces.
2.     Cook the quinoa. Rinse quinoa thoroughly under cold water, then place in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then simmer until liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

3.     Make the dressing. Combine the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, oil, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper together and whisk thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to taste.

4.     Assemble the bowls, dividing the ingredients equally between the two.  Start with placing the arugula in a wide, shallow bowl. Top with half the quinoa, asparagus, peas, chickpeas, radishes, and egg.  Drizzle the dressing. Top with pepitas and parsley before serving.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

3 Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Truffles

Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means chocolate is very much top of mind for this little lady.  For moi, the darker the better.  I love the deep, rich flavors of cacao, mixed with as little sugar as possible to keep that rich, teetering-on-bitter flavor. So when I came upon this 3 Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Truffle recipe—two-thirds of which are 70% pure cocoa or greater—I was hooked. When I discovered the third ingredient was tahini, I was sold.

The recipe is really just two ingredients, dark chocolate and tahini. The third, unsweetened cocoa powder, serves a predominantly aesthetic role, reserved for dusting at the end to make the chocolates pretty.

Might so few ingredients in a truffle make it bland, or lacking in flavor? Truth be told, just the opposite. The two ingredients are so wonderfully complex, they almost make a mockery of the idea. The chocolate is sweet and rich, with undertones of vanilla, while the tahini is nutty and buttery; I would argue, the most flavor-nuanced fat source there is. Together, they are a gourmand delight, an unparalleled zenith of luxurious, silky flavor.

And while their taste is certainly fancy, the prep is anything but. It’s actually comical just how unfussy this recipe is. Even parts dark chocolate (melted) and tahini are stirred together, then poured into a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap. After an hour in the freezer, this truffle-block is ready to be cut into any shape you please. Mine naturally formed into mismatched rectangles, which after being rolled in the cocoa powder, managed to look awesomely cosmopolitan—like they belonged on an artisan chocolate shop shelf next to your most extravagant, hipster chocolate bar.

In reality, not so much. I used half a bar of Raaka dark chocolate (admittedly fancy, that was a gift) and half of the Nestle semi-sweet morsels I keep on hand for baking.  For the tahini, I used Seed + Mill brand—where this recipe hails from, and the only tahini I recommend. As I wrote about in a previous post, Seed + Mill sources their sesame seeds from a small town in Ethiopia, called Humera, where climatic conditions make their tahini wonderfully, naturally, sweet. (It's also the reason why no one will believe you when you tell them these truffles have zero added sugar).

If you like, feel free to experiment with using spices to dust in tandem with the cocoa powder, maybe a sprinkle of sea salt, cayenne, or cinnamon. That being said, this recipe is true to it's name, and I assure you that the 3 ingredients alone indeed yield perfection.

And health! Both the flavonoids in cocoa and phytosterols in sesame help lower cholesterol and contain anti-inflammatory properties. The ingredients are also mineral powerhouses, with significant sources of iron and zinc. They are even linked to healthy skin—flavonoids fight against skin damage and free radicals, while sesame's high zinc and copper content aid in collagen production.

Happy Valentine's Day!

3 Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Truffles
Makes 30 bite-sized truffles

1 cup best quality 70% dark chocolate
1 cup Seed + Mill Pure Tahini
Cocoa powder for dusting

1. Melt chocolate in a bowl, add tahini and stir to combine.
2. Line a loaf tin with plastic wrap and pour in the chocolate mix. Place tin in freezer for 1 hour.
3. Remove chocolate from plastic wrap and slice into squares, rectangles or any abstract shape you like.
4. Dust with best quality cocoa powder.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bone Broth, à la carte or for Egg Drop Soup and Lentil Soup

“Blue Monday,” the alleged gloomiest day of the year, occurs on the third week of January’s workday start. It is marked by two things: withdrawal of holiday season high spirits, and the onset of widespread seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Throw in this week’s nor’easter and the nightmare state of our country, week one, and I’m going to go ahead and say that this dark, dark, cerulean period is going to extend a bit longer than 24 hours. 

Winter-onset SAD is a real thing, marked by symptoms like irritability, tiredness, low energy, and heavy, leaden limbs. With our physical and mental energies down, it’s important to nurture our bodies more than ever. I can’t think of anything more heart and soul warming than a steaming cup of Chicken Bone Broth, consumed on its own or as the main ingredient in Egg Drop Soup or Lentil Soup.
All three of these recipes come from the Annual Goop Detox, which, I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to start at first. Words like “detox”, “cleanse”, and “elimination-diet” are really not my style—I’m more of a whole-ingredient, nutrient-rich eating gal who prefers general eating for health over restriction and discipline.
However, all of the recipes in the detox looked amazing, and I loved how GP reused ingredients and components for the different dishes. I didn’t commit to elimination-diet rules (no caffeine, no way!) but am currently making my way through each of the 14 dishes with utter delight. Roughly three-quarters through, I’ve immensely enjoyed the way that GP constructed “cozy-hot breakfasts, warm and filling dinners, and quick and simple lunches” to make clean eating feel natural in our current cold-weather climate. By the end, she promises a “lighter, happier, refreshed you.” A tall order for Blue Monday: Extreme Edition, but I truly felt all those qualities after two weeks of eating the meals.
Many of the recipes in the Annual Detox have an Asian flare, and the Chicken Bone Broth is no exception. Simmered with ginger, star anise pods, cilantro, and apple cider vinegar, this broth exudes a lovely, spicy bite from these more exotic ingredients (in addition to common ones like celery, onion, carrots, and garlic). It is truly glorious on its own, and despite the recipe’s recommendation to cook for a total of 10 hours, ample flavor can be achieved in just 2-3.
The Egg Drop Soup is simply a fortified version of the broth, adding turmeric, chili flakes, more ginger, lemon juice, and a single egg for a protein-rich, inflammation-fighting, citrusy enhancement. It’s lovely, and ribboning the eggs was so fun! (Though my soup looks more like a weird floating omelet because I used two eggs and apparent have terrible ribboning form). GP even recommends this soup for breakfast, and its light enough to fit the bill.
The Lentil Soup is a fairly basic recipe, but exalted to Best-I’ve-ever-had status through use of the bone broth. Two kinds of lentils, puy and red, give legume depth and variety, which are cooked simply with garlic, carrot, and celery before blended with a quick grate of fresh ginger and the broth. The bite from the ginger is a really nice complement to the earthy lentils, and I added some frozen chopped spinach and red wine vinegar for extra gusto, too.
Find the full Annual Goop Detox here. (Laarb Lettuce Cups and Miso Sweet Potato Collard Wrap are two of my non-soup favorites).
At first, I was struck by how ironic it was that I was getting such pleasure from these pure, simple foods. I literally felt like I was indulging, as if I were drinking a glass of red wine and eating a rich chocolate cake. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. My body, mind, and spirit are trying to heal. And while I can’t control what goes on outside of me—whether that be the weather or the president—I can take charge of what I put inside of me. And here is the only place to start.

Chicken Bone Broth (from Goop Annual Detox)
Makes 12 cups

1 half organic chicken (or just the equivalent roasted chicken bones. I made a version this way and it was great, too)
1 celery stalk, cut into thirds
1 yellow onion, cut in quarters
2 medium carrots, cut in half
4 garlic cloves
2 star anise pods
1 3-inch piece ginger, sliced
½ bunch cilantro
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
10 cups water (or enough to cover all the ingredients)
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
20 black peppercorns


1. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low heat for 6* hours. Remove meat from chicken, shred, and store until ready to use.
2. Return the chicken bones to the crockpot and continue cooking for 4 more hours.
3. Strain, cool, season to taste with salt, and store in the fridge.

*2 to 3 hours of cooking, total, is perfectly adequate.

Egg Drop Soup (from Goop Annual Detox)
Serves 2

3 cups chicken bone broth
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 pinches chili flakes
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
a squeeze of fresh lemon
cilantro to garnish (optional)

1. Combine the bone broth, ground turmeric, chili flakes, and grated ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. While the mixture heats up, crack the eggs in a small bowl, season with a pinch of salt, and beat with a fork.
3. When the broth is simmering, pour the egg through the holes of a slotted metal spoon directly over the broth, making egg ribbons.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze over some fresh lemon juice just before serving. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Lentil Soup (from Goop Annual Detox)
Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1-2 medium carrots, diced
1-2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
⅔ cup puy lentils
⅓ cup red lentils
2 cups chicken bone broth or chicken stock
½ tsp salt
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 cups bone broth
½ cup chopped frozen spinach (optional)
Red wine vinegar, drizzled before serving

1. Heat olive oil in a medium dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
2. Add lentils, broth, and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes (or until the lentils are cooked but still have some bite), stirring occasionally.
3. Remove pot from heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes. Add the fresh grated ginger and 2 cups bone broth to the pot. Blend together with an immersion blender. Add spinach, if using. Serve with a drizzling of red wine vinegar.