Savory Mint Almond Pesto

I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for pesto. On second thought, I DO know about you and I haven’t met a single soul that doesn’t love pesto. It’s just that awesome potent sauce that works on pasta or crostini as a dip for crusty bread or a spread on a sandwich. This recipe came out of necessity. I was blessed with an abundance of mint and after one too many mojitos and as many sprigs I could put on ice cream, I still had a whole bag filled with mint. I happened to also have about a cup of basil…not quite enough for basil pesto. So I stuck the basil, equal parts mint, almonds, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, sea salt and olive oil blended it in the Cuisinart. The next think I knew toast was slathered, a bowl of fettuccine was sauced and there was a savory pot leftover for another one or two snacks and a meal. PESTO! Next time I’ll slap a bow on that jar and give as a hostess gift.

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Le Quinoa Coco

I gave this quinoa a fancy name  just for irony because it is actually not fancy at all, it is extremely simple. I’ve found that quinoa can go one of  two ways – either someone cooks it like rice and it ends up a bland, earthy side dish you never try again or you kinda overdo it, add a whole lot of fun stuff and then you end up missing the taste, texture and flavor of this magical gluten-free grain. I love this recipe because it’s in the middle. The quinoa gets to shine but you can use it as a simple side dish or an easy lunch that makes fantastic leftovers.

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Quick Coleslaw

Coleslaw. The thing that stumps many is the dressing. The one I’ll share is simple, with only four ingredients. If the dressing has eluded you in the past you will now be able to bask in the sheer beauty of coleslaw and it’s deliciousness, healthfulness, people pleasing staying power. How liberating to make a huge batch that will hold up well in the refrigerator for at least a few days. It’s a hearty dose of veggies to have for a snack, it’s perfect for working girl lunch, prepare the night before if you know you’ll be low on time the next day… and, this easy peasy dressing lends itself to incorporating “leftovers” in your slaw – that loose carrot, that half a cabbage, that apple going uneaten, that hunk of blue cheese, that ominous leek hanging around during the early spring season when they are so abundant!

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Veggie Faux Meatloaf

Meatloaf is an amazing thing. Known as a working class delight in incorporates a cacophony of leftovers into one tasty dish. The concoction I created for my vegetarian boyfriend, now husband, sought to accomplish this same goal. When I created this recipe it was a time when I was constantly working toward winning his love via his tummy. Turns out I didn’t have to try so hard. But, I came up with lots of great recipes along the way – some of my most inventive, creative, and crowd pleasing. The Veggie Faux Meatloaf is great to serve to the whole family and will soothe the longing soul of new vegetarians craving their mother’s meatloaf. Alas, I no longer partake because it is far from gluten-free but it’s comfort food at its finest to feed the family.

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Baby Shitakes Mama

I swear to Goddess that shitake mushrooms must be aphrodisiacs. I just crrraaaaveee the crispy, buttery, nutty, earthy goodness you can only get from some sauteed shrooms. This is definitely a recipe I riff on often with all different kinds of shrooms – crimini, trumpet, chanterelle…but my favorite is baby shitake, the large ones sliced work fine too, but there is something special about the hunt for perfect heirloom baby shitakes. They hold a more potent flavor and tenderness in addition to being slice free. These sexy little babies are sure to please a vegetarian husband or a carnivorous gluten-freer like me.

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Butternut Squash Galette

This is a recipe that my good friend Sarah made for me for the first time a few years ago. She has worked as a chef at the Tassajara Buddhist Retreat which is where she perfected this recipe. Before I ate gluten free I ate this version of  a savory galette and could not believe my taste buds. Hearty yet pastry like, savory but herby and sweet with smooth baked mozzarella…it had everything. It also happens to be wonderfully seasonal. So I bust out this recipe every fall into winter around Thanksgiving time. It’s a great appetizer to bring for the big bird meal. It can be a special breakfast or lunch and a perfect solution to those constantly searching for different butternut squash recipes. Rolling your own dough can be tricky so I’ve also thrown in a way to get the same effect but with an already created pastry shell.

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Delicata Squash Bake

An indication of Fall in Northern CA is the arrival of squash in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes. In SF, you can’t really stake the claim of foodie or urban organic farm supporter if you don’t get one of these delivered to you weekly – it’s a social requirement only counteracted by frequent visits to the farmers market which for fun loving and busy professionals is not always possible. CSA boxes are wonderful little gems delivered to your door and often you have no idea what’s going to be inside. Many times there are things I would not normally gravitate to when I go to the grocery store, this is one reason why the box is so important to me. It forces me to branch out, try different produce and create recipes. For a couple weeks in a row we’ve been getting delicata squash. I’ve never really known what to do with it. I’ve roasted it in the past with olive oil, salt and pepper and it’s made a decent side dish, but nothing that could make a whole meal. And, frankly, I was very meh about this squash. So when I collected two nice sized, rich creamy yellow and green striped specimens I decided to create a recipe that could act as a side dish but also maximize the delicately sweet flavor, much more mild than butternut squash, and conducive to a savory leaning dish that can serve as a light dinner with salad or a simple lunch.

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White Bean + Green Apple Soup

Fall soup, anytime soup, hearty soup, lunch soup, soup, soup! That is what I was craving this week. After a summer without it and a September without, we finally had some rainy days (rain is generally welcomed in California because we can be prone to drought) that warranted a nice pot of awesome soup. I like to multi-task my soups knowing they will be served for a dinner main course and multiple lunches or snacks. This soup was an experiment that went wonderfully well, the pièce de résistance ended up being small chunks of green apple thrown in after the soup was essentially done. It was almost like a garnish but I stirred them in and let them sit stewing in the hot soup, flame off, for a few minutes before serving.

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Kale Bombshell Salad + Gluten Free Croutons

My Kale Bombshell is really a kale salad tossed in an authentic Caesar dressing…”My” is used loosely because although I would like to say I’ve modified it significantly to make it my own, I haven’t really. This is a recipe that caught my eye as I was scrolling cable TV one rainy afternoon stuck in a hotel in North Carolina. It’s seems like Rachel Ray is always on when I visit the Eastern side of the U.S. Although I don’t dislike Rachel, I wouldn’t have stopped at her show but, randomly, one of my lady vamp obsessions, Christina Hendricks (from Mad Men and for some of you geeks, Firefly) was being interviewed. Not only that, but she then began to talk about her love of cooking, hosting dinner parties and mixology, then…she began to cook! What?! YES!

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Adamo’s Zucchini Fagioli Pasta

My friend Adamo is 100% Italian. He is one of the only people I know that is 100% of anything and was born and raised in the United States. With this being said no doubt he has that magical Italian food making gene, so when I run into him in the grocery store I definitely check out his cart. OH YES, I admit, I am a grocery cart ogler. One of my favorite recipes I got from Adamo was a grocery cart ogle.

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