green pea soup with turnip & leek, mint and lemon thyme


This record setting long and wet Spring dovetailed with my lovely vacation in Paris and Tuscany, which means my vegetable starts were germinated and transplanted late. My garden is now boldly trying to catch up and/or make it through these periodic brief mid- to upper-80F days that are brutal for the earlier season vegetable varieties. I gambled and planted sweet peas late, will simply have to wait and see how the season comes on and if they can thrive…

I spotted plump fresh organic green peas at the market only a few hours after I had assessed my garden; I couldn’t resist picking those up, and rounded out my purchase with a leek, turnip, and large red potato. It was a cool and wet day, and I was thinking soup– Yes, I adore soup, warming and nurturing when it’s cold out, cooling and refreshing on stellar hot days. Reflecting, I realized I’d never made a fresh pea soup, only dried split pea soup! Here was my opportunity… I liked what I created; my partner’s first thought with a taster spoon from the pot was “Good! but perhaps less mint next time?” But when I served dinner, his bowl was quickly emptied. I especially liked mine drizzled with a little European style plain tart yogurt. I expected this would be great served cold on a warm day too, and that this batch along with the current weather forecast would allow me to test both warm and chilled serving options. Sure enough, when I tried it served chilled, I thought it was delicious.

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ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh peas
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1 large red potato, chopped
  • 4-5 cups fresh water
  • 12 medium leaves fresh mint, diced
  • 3 large sprigs fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/8 t sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • European style plain tart yogurt

instructions:

Cover peas with 4 cups water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 2-3 minutes, just until peas are bright and becoming soft. Set aside. Meanwhile, using large soup pot, saute chopped leek, turnip, and red potato in 2T butter and a drizzle of olive oil, until leek is translucent and potatoes are beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add several tablespoons or so of white wine, cover and reduce heat; steam about 3 minutes, until red potatoes and turnip have softened, but are not mushy. Then combine cooked peas and all of their liquid into the soup pot, mix all together well, and allow to cool. (This is an important nutrient step: When you cook vegetables in water, much of the vitamins are lost into the water. Thus you want to retain the steam by covering while cooking, and use the cooking water in the recipe.) Once cooled some for safe blending, puree in blender in small batches, and return to soup pot. Assess thickness, and adjust as necessary with additional water just off boil. Add the juice of the lemon, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I wanted my soup fairly thick yet smooth. You may like yours not quite as thick and with a cup or so of fresh cooked peas added after you’ve pureed? If so, cook more peas and set some aside. I served this drizzled with a little European style plain tart yogurt and fresh thyme leaves, together with a mixed green salad with walnuts, currants, and daikon radish, and white wine.

 

 

corona bean salad with asparagus, artichoke hearts, leek and lemon


There are times when things go according to plan, and times when mixing things up on the fly is the better way to achieve your objectives…

Before I last went grocery shopping, I had checked the weather forecast and my calendar; I had plans in mind and a list in hand. Then my intended dinner guest declined to join me for dinner this weekend, and the weather forecast changed significantly– now calling for a 90F day or two. Hmmmm… Knowing it was going to be hot today, and that I needed to prepare my asparagus today if I was going to enjoy eating it, I decided to prepare a dinner salad in the cool of the morning. Yes! a perfect opportunity also to use the remainder of the corona beans I tucked into the freezer last week.

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ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked corona beans
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 large bunch asparagus
  • 1 large jar artichoke hearts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • a little Italian Pinot Grigio
  • 1/2-1 fresh lemon
  • fresh ground black and green pepper
  • mixed salad greens

instructions:

Snap each asparagus spear near its base to remove any woody ends, then delicately pare away any thick skin. Chop coarsely into 1-2 inch long spears. Saute chopped leek for 1-2 minutes in 2T butter and a drizzle of olive oil, then add garlic and asparagus, stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons white wine, cover, reduce heat, and steam for 2 minutes. Do not overcook, asparagus is never good soggy. Rinse artichoke hearts well, then slice. Mix the cooked corona beans (a logical substitute on the fly would be a can of white kidney beans or garbanzos) together with the leek, asparagus, and sliced artichoke hearts in a casserole dish with airtight lid. Refrigerate ’til meal time! When ready to serve, dress with the juice and pulp of the lemon, also a drizzle of olive oil, and finish with a little fresh ground pepper.

When it’s super hot tonight, I know I’ll be happy I prepared this earlier, and that I met my objectives of preparing healthy, tasty meals, without wasting ingredients. I’ll pour a glass of the chilled Pinot Grigio I’d intended for the weekend, maybe making a little hors d’oeuvre dish of a couple dried apricots or cold orange slices with a handful of walnuts. Then I’ll serve this over mixed greens including baby spinach, chard, kale, and radicchio. Buon appetito!

on breaking bread happily alone together


My daughter has been happily and successfully traveling the world for the last year and a half working as a freelance writer and photographer. As it happened to work out, she’s now in Tuscany, nearby where I recently traveled…
cor·re·spond·ence
noun
  1. a close similarity, connection, or equivalence.
  2. communication by exchanging letters with someone.

We share our news updates and thoughts via email and text; our correspondence is also often in the form of photographs, no words needed to convey the sentiment. We talk on Skype fairly frequently as a morning coffee date here as she has gets ready for dinner there. Healthy, delicious, and beautiful food is something she enjoys as much as I do. I like hearing what food she’s finding and relishing as she travels through varies countries, and it makes me smile to think how recently, when I caught a snotty head cold on a plane, she offered “drink ginger root and lemon tea”. Yes!

These days she’s not looking up her favorite childhood recipes on my blog– she’s a capable and creative cook, and she’s also jamming on article deadlines. And while we are now busy in time zones 9 hours apart, simple correspondence prevails in our daily experience. This was her visual message to me earlier today. I want to call it “Breaking Bread Happily Alone Together” because of course she is there now alone, while I enjoyed a similar experience of lovely brushetta– albeit with Prosciutto– and posted that here just a week ago. Such lovely meals, and such lovely shared experience.

IMG_5131(Photo credit: Lois Parshley)

Quinoa cucumber mint salad with black beans and serrano pepper


“There’s mosquitoes on the river Fish are rising up like birds
It’s been hot for seven weeks now,
Too hot to even speak now, Did you hear what I just heard?”

Well maybe not yet seven weeks, but it has been many weeks now of daily temps over 90F, and with the 4th of July and Fare Thee Well concert streaming potluck dinners to attend, it’s been a time to come up with easy to make and cooling, protein rich main dish salads…

ingredients:

  • 3/4 c quinoa
  • 1 can organic black beans, well rinsed
  • 2-3 medium cucumbers, thick sliced into half rounds or quarters
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced, including seeds
  • 10-12 leaves spearmint, diced
  • 1 lime, squeezed for dressing
  • organic nonfat yogurt or feta cheese for garnish

instructions:

Rinse quinoa well, then place in 1 1/2 c fresh water with a dash of salt, bring to boil then turn heat down to simmer covered for 18-20 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with fork. Rinse beans well, chop and dice all vegetables and combine all. Dress with squeezed lime, and store in airtight container in refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with organic nonfat yogurt or feta cheese for additional protein.

fennel & snap pea salad with black beans & serrano pepper


Blazing hot sunny days therefore time for easy light salads with some protein too!

ingredients

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into thin slices
  • 3 medium celery stocks, chopped
  • 1-2 c of snap peas, cut into chunks
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, including seeds, chopped
  • 1 can organic black beans, well rinsed
  • 1 c or so of cooked quinoa
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 lime, squeezed, as dressing

IMG_8871 (1)Instructions

Chop all the vegetables except the avocado, rinse the beans, and mix all together well in a glass container with airtight lid. Dress with fresh lime and refrigerate until ready to serve. I’ll add the avocado right before serving… perhaps with a cold IPA at a picnic dinner.

carrot and sunflower seeds coconut balls for your sweet tooth


Dinner and dessert at my friend Sharon’s house led to my discovery of the Living Candida Free cookbook by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN…. and thus to this, my first attempt making my own modified version of her Carrot Balls recipe. Yum! My guests and I devoured these fast, and I think even my hardcore chocolate loving, non-vegan, non-gluten free, unabashedly desert centered sister would like these. A lot.

ingredients:

  • 3/4t fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 c raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t cardamon
  • 2 t ground flaxseeds
  • 2 T coconut for balls, plus additional 6-8 T coconut for rolling balls in.
  • 1 T plus 1t lemon zest
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 2 t blackstrap molasses. Or 1 t blackstrap molasses plus 1 t maple syrup
  • 1-2 t water, as necessary or skip the water and increase the lemon juice
  • 6-7 T fresh finely grated carrot

instructions:

Using a food processor, finely chop fresh ginger root, then add sunflower seeds, spices, ground flaxseeds, and coconut. Process until medium fine. Then add finely grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses until it just comes together as dough– it will be rather heavy. Add carrot and pulse to mix evenly. Don’t be frightened by its dense texture! Form into small balls, then roll each ball in a small bowl of the additional coconut to coat well. Refrigerate in an airtight tupperware type container until firm and chilled. Makes 18-20 balls, with 2-4 balls being a perfect dessert serving.

I made these using 1t molasses plus 1t maple syrup, and thought they were just a little too sweet when I tasted the dough after the second step, so I threw the 2 lemonquats I happened to have on hand into the food processor too! Next time I’ll try using just molasses and more lemon juice but no water to make them with a bit more zing. My guests and I all thought these were a great dessert. I think they’d be wonderful too for a light breakfast snack if I need a little energy before going to an early morning yoga class.

edamame and ricotta quinoa summer salad with hazelnuts and mint


Forecast for hot weather and two busy days ahead… calls for something easy, light and fulfilling too.

ingredients:

  • 3/4 c quinoa
  • 2 cups edamame
  • 1/2 c nonfat ricotta cheese
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 T fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Instructions:

Rinse quinoa well, then cover with 1 1/2 cups fresh water and a pinch of salt, bring to boil then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Drain any residual water. Meanwhile, cover edamame with water in a small pan, bring to boil then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 5 minutes or just until tender, then drain. Stir ricotta cheese into cooked edamame and mix well. Chop all veggies. Combine everything except the hazelnuts and mix together well, store in airtight container in refrigerator. Serve cold or warm, topped with hazelnuts.