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Posts Tagged ‘olive oil’

Shaved Fennel & Zucchini Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 17, 2016 at 8:50 pm

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
~Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

shaved fennel salad

Shaved fennel & zucchini salad with pine nuts & feta

This list, NYT 100 Notable Books of 2014, makes me panic because I want nothing more than to spend my whole life reading every book of note. And I also want to take every yoga workshop continuing to see what my body can do. And I also want to be present for my children and inform and enrich their lives with my mothering. And I also want to cook wildly interesting food and host an endless stream of al fresco dinner parties where we discuss, into the wee hours of the night, ideas and books and yoga and parenting. And I want. And I want. And I want. How many lives can I stuff into this particular wild & precious one?

Surely, I am not the only one who has been overwhelmed with endless desires and continuous striving. When is enough enough? Contemplate that while you methodically piece together this simply delicious salad and let me know what you come up with…

1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins (a mandolin is helpful)
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin (again, a mandolin is key)

shaved fennel salad ingredients

Salad before adding dressing

2/3 cup loosely-chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the zucchini, fennel and dill in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

When you are ready to serve the salad, spoon zucchini-fennel mixture over arugula in a large bowl. Top with pine nuts and sprinkle with feta.

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Ottolenghi’s Green Gazpacho

In Mindfulness, Nutrition, Recipe, Yoga on September 11, 2015 at 4:15 am
green gazpacho on grass

The greenest of green gazpachos

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” ~Margaret Shepard

Last night I took a yoga class from one of my very favorite teachers and she prefaced her class by acknowledging that life throws you many twists and blind turns which require faith and surrender in order to find the flow in the midst of uncertainty. She promised us that all the weirdness was leading up to something. Of course, she was referring to the vinyasa flow she was about to subject us to but, at the same time, she was asking us to acknowledge this parallel to life.

It’s been three months since I’ve posted. This is not due to writing drafts and failing to publish (although I still have an embarrassing backlog). Creativity was a luxury that I could not afford recently with my energy going to more practical matters. I’m finally pulling out of that period but not without a significant (and somewhat permanent) rearrangement of my daily life and routines. Well, to be fair, this hasn’t happened quite yet but I am already preparing for it. I’ll reveal more as a I fully wrap my brain around it and accept that I cannot see the future of this blind turn.

green gazpacho ingredients

All this green goodness goes straight into your processor or blender.

A heat wave is scorching San Diego right now and since the weather is usually so darn perfect year-round, many of us don’t have air conditioning. We aren’t used to the weather affecting our lifestyles let alone even being a discussion topic. Needless to say, there is a lot of whining going on and very little cooking. Gazpacho is a nice change from constant salad consumption – you get your greens but you don’t have to chew them!

This cold soup recipe is perfect for people who don’t usually like gazpacho. No tomatoes mean no acidity and no lingering urge to eat it with tortilla chips. There is something oddly addictive about this soup from Chef Ottolenghi’s cookbook – Plenty More. You can’t find the recipe online, only the ingredients, but, since it’s a gazpacho, the instructions are pretty intuitive: put everything in a blender and push the ‘on’ button. I didn’t follow the ingredients list exactly and will indicate where I deviated below:

Serves 6 (at least!)

2 celery stalks (including leaves)

2 small green peppers, seeded

6 mini cucumbers, peeled (I used Persian so I didn’t peel)

1 green chile (I chose a large jalapeno)

4 garlic cloves

1 tsp sugar (I used brown)

1.5 cups walnuts, lightly toasted

Parsley and Basil: Original recipe indicates 2 TBSP of parsley but I love its fresh, cleansing taste so I added a large handful of parsley while completely eliminating the basil (1 cup). I like basil but I guess I like parsley more – you decide. Maybe next time I will do a handful of each herb.

4 TBSP balsamic vinegar (original recipe calls for sherry vinegar but I prefer the caramelized sweetness of balsamic and perhaps this is the source of the addiction)

1 cup olive oil

3 TBSP greek yogurt (full-fat)

1 cup water (Ottolenghi uses 2 cups and 9 ice cubes. I like the taste with only 1 cup water so I stopped diluting)

salt & pepper

green gazpacho on the beach

Seagulls love this gazpacho too!

Croutons: toss cubes of sourdough baguette with olive oil and salt and bake at 375 for about 10 mins. Ottolenghi also added 3 slices of sourdough bread to his gazpacho but I left bread for the toppings only.

Directions:

1. Cram EVERYTHING GREEN (and garlic) into your processor first (leafy stuff on bottom, chunks on top)

2. Run it until its get really liquid-y, adding the one cup of water, if needed

3. After the veggies are fully processed, add balsamic, sugar, olive oil, and yogurt

4. Last, add the toasted walnuts and pulse until the texture suits you.

I like this soup best at room temp or only slightly chilled. The flavors aren’t as nuanced straight out of the fridge and, the fats, olive oil and walnuts, are best at room temperature as well.

Recommended consumption: on the beach with an icy Rose´

Spinach & Kale Soup with Tahini-Dressed Chickpeas

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 15, 2015 at 2:35 am

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”~Lao Tzu

frozen soup

Leafy green soup with tahini and chickpeas

Hey there! Not all “processed” food is bad.

Stocking your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables is an easy, affordable way to get more servings of these plants into your diet. Frozen fruits and veggies can be just as, if not more, nutritious than fresh fruits and veggies. This is because nutrients are lost in the process of harvesting, packaging, storing, transporting, and then displaying fresh produce. Vitamins and minerals can be sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen or, in the case of vitamin C, all three!

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and is doing it’s neutralization job by reacting with the oxidants of heat, light, and oxygen. The easy loss of vitamin C is a case for cutting and peeling your fruit immediately prior to consumption to reduce nutrient loss as well as a case for shopping at your local farmer’s market where the time that lapses between harvest and purchase is as short as possible. Additionally, think about how much time your fruits and veggies spend in your refrigerator before consumption.

On the other hand, commercially-processed frozen foods are often flash-frozen very soon after harvest in a process which retains a maximum amount of nutrients and superior levels of antioxidants compared to fresh produce. Additionally, since these fruits and veggies are intended to be frozen soon after picking, they are left to naturally ripen longer than a fruit or veggie that needs to be transported and stored and, possibly, artificially-ripened. More time to naturally ripen equals, again, higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants.

You know what I’m talking about, you have about 36 hours to consume those strawberries that you bought at the farmer’s market before they go soft and smelly on you; however, the plastic box from Costco lasts at least 4 days in your fridge but never tastes quite as sweet and fragrantly delicious as the ones from your local farmer. Well, those frozen strawberries will have a taste closer to the farmer’s market strawberries along with the superior nutrient profile. Admittedly, you will lose out when it comes to texture. Which is why frozen fruits and veggies are perfect for soups, smoothies, and baked dishes where texture isn’t quite as important.

frozen veggies

Frozen veggies: affordable, storable, and super nutritious.

With all the being said, this soup is delicious as well as nutritious and features easy, affordable, long-storing, frozen vegetables!

The other main ingredients (chickpeas, veggie broth, and tahini) are all shelf-stable, potentially allowing you to stock your freezer and pantry with all the necessary ingredients (just pick up lemons and parsley) so you’ll be ready to make this soup at a moment’s notice.

2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried chili flakes
16 oz frozen spinach
16 oz frozen kale
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups vegetable broth
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparing the soup: Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and chili, lower the heat and let stir for a couple of minutes or until softened. Stir occasionally. Stir in spinach, kale and nutmeg and gently cook for 1 minute. Then broth and cook for 20 more minutes. Blend it silky smooth with an immersion blender and season to taste.

3 TBSP tahini
3 3TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 organic lemon, juiced
1 small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
15 oz (1 can or 2 cups) chickpeas/garbanzo beans

Preparing the Chickpeas: Whisk tahini, oil and lemon juice together in a mixing bowl. Add parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the chickpeas and mix it all up with your hands, make sure every single chickpea is coated. These just get yummier the longer they marinate so make ahead and enjoy for days. Another option for the tahini-dressed chickpeas: toss over hot soba noodles cooked with carrot peels.

Moroccan Carrot & Garbanzo Bean Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 7, 2015 at 10:03 pm

“Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.” ~William Butler Yeats

peeled carrots

Carrots ready for the mandolin

Scientific inquiry has finally figured out why we consume sugar in response to stress. Apparently sugar reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. For the general public, this big reveal was kind of a “so what?” or “duh!” moment. Any super stressed-out human being has known that they feel soothed after eating sugar. However, scientists and nutritionists are excited because perhaps understanding metabolic pathways sensitive to sugar will lead to answers for treating stress-related conditions.

moroccan salad

Carrots, mint, dried fruit.

It seems the human condition is forever chasing the solution to reducing stress levels because, well, stress will kill you (recommended reading: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers). And, unfortunately, so will our most easily abused response to stress, sugar. When you are listening to Pink Floyd on a gloomy May Gray day (as I will admit to now), the inclination is to reach for something comforting. I recommend backing away from the dessert items (even if it is Chia Pudding) and embracing soothing sugars in the form of complex carbohydrates and fiber such as a salad of beans, root veggies, and dried fruit.

Yes, I am being serious. This approach is just as effective without the dreaded sugar hangover along with guilt. Luckily, this comfort food salad gets better with time so make a batch, store in the fridge and break it out for emergencies. All the sweet carbs – garbanzo beans, dried apricots & plums, and carrots – break down getting all mushy and marinated in the cumin, oil, lemon juice, and honey – yum!

Serve tossed with arugula and chopped almonds as a salad or layer it on a romaine leaf (a ala Salmonberry Spread) with avocado and more cayenne. Drink hot mint tea while consuming. Perfection. Here it is…

Dressing: 1 TBSP cumin seeds

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

cumin and oil

Toasted and ground cumin seeds with olive oil.

Salad: 2 cups carrots, sliced whisper thin on a mandolin (shredded works too)

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)

1/3 cup dried plums, chopped

1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/3 cup fresh mint, torn or chopped

To make the dressing, first toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned, a minute or two. Let cool, and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle. Yes, this is more work but totally worth it.

In a bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, garbanzo beans, dried fruit, mint. Gently toss with dressing until everything is evenly coated and refrigerate. Store for up to 3 days in the fridge.

moroccan carrot salad

Serve on a romaine leaf topped with avocado and cayenne.

Spicy Garbanzo & Barley Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe on December 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

“It’ll destroy you if you try to make it mean anything to anyone other than yourself.” ~Henry Rollins

my eye

My eye after chopping onions for this soup

Eating Junior Mints (a leftover movie theater purchase) while taste-testing a spicy soup recipe does not mix well. Other things that do not mix well: my eyeballs with freshly chopped onions, soup-eating in sunny, 73 degrees F weather or milk with spaghetti (why do parents do that to kids?).

Tori Amos & Sarah McLachlan mix well together and used to accompany me on road trips to Ventura County during my previous life as an environmental consultant. Three hours of singing at the top of your lungs while cruising the empty PCH at 530am is cathartic. Singing at the top of your lungs while recipe-testing is also cathartic so I put both of those women on for good juju while exploring this Tunisian-inspired soup.

moroccan spices

Homemade harissa paste: water and olive oil added to chili flakes, garlic, parsley, caraway, and coriander.

This recipe is adapted from 101cookbooks.com who further adapted it from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, which according to my extensive Google research (not really), appears to be inspired by a common Tunisian breakfast soup involving garbanzo beans in a thin garlic and cumin broth served over stale crusty bread pieces and topped with, potentially, one or all of the following: egg, olive oil, harissa, capers, tuna, lemon, olives, more cumin, etc. It sounds amazing and inspired me to eat this soup again in the morning with a raw egg poached right into the broth. A smell a business idea for a food truck…that’s another topic…

The great thing about this soup is it uses only water as the base instead of a vegetable or meat broth. This allows all the fragrant North African spices and delicate flavors of the carrot and celery to really stand out.

Garbanzo Bean Broth:

garbanzo-barley soup ingredients

The thin, water-based broth perfectly highlights the spices and veggies that provide the base for this delicious soup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, diced

4 – 8 cloves garlic, depending on how much you love garlic, crushed

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

4 – 6 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons harissa paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds

2 cans, drained, garbanzo beans

6-8 cups water

Fine grain salt and/or black pepper, to taste

Grain to Serve it Over:

barley or farro

Is it barley or is it farro?

1 cup barley or farro (which did I have on hand?)

3 cups water or vegetable broth

Creamy, Herby Feta Paste:

3 1/2 oz feta, broken into large chunks

1/4 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)

1 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped or just ripped from stem

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/8 teaspoon fine grain salt

*for a non-dairy version, add herbs to this cashew cream recipe

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and continue cooking for another 5- 10 minutes. Add the harissa, cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds and cook for a another 5 minutes, stirring well, until fragrant. Add garbanzo beans and water into the vegetable mixture along with salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

barley garbanzo soup bowl

Hydrating and Hearty

Meanwhile, rinse the barley, add to a small saucepan, and cover with 3 cups cold water (or veggie broth for more flavor). Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid is gone or barley is soft.

To make the feta paste, put the feta, crème fraîche, cilantro, mint, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small food processor or hand blender until a smooth, creamy paste forms. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Serve by adding cooked barley to the bowl and spooning soup over grains and topping with a dollop of creamed/herbed feta paste. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Broccoli-Apple Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe on October 20, 2013 at 2:57 am
broccoli-apple soup2

Only 5 ingredients: broccoli, apples, onion, olive oil, and broth.

A shockingly simple and delicious soup. I toyed with the idea of adding a few herbs and spices here and there but decided not to complicate the beautiful simplicity of this soup. That’s all I’m going to say. Try it out for yourself.

Ingredients:

3 apples – peeled and cubed

1 head of broccoli – separate florets from stalk, slice stalk thinly

6 cups veggie broth

1 large onion

Olive oil (couple swirls around bottom of pot)

broccoli-apple soupDirections:

Once you’ve prepared apples and broccoli, assess to see that you’ve got an approximately equal amount of each. Adjust accordingly.

Saute onion and apples in olive oil.

Add broth and stalks. Simmer 20 minutes until soft.

Add florets. Simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Puree with a hand blender and assess consistency. I believe you’d want to avoid the consistency of baby food (a danger with cooked apples!).

Add more broth as needed. Salt & pepper to taste.

Serve topped with cashew cream or greek yogurt and cayenne.