Anna’s Pesto Trapanese

Today’s recipe comes from “The Splendid Table“, a public radio show (or podcast) about all things food and cooking.  I guess I decided that the multitude of cooking blogs I follow and the cookbooks that I’m always bringing home from the library just weren’t enough.  Plus, I can’t read cookbooks while I’m jogging or riding my bike.  In my exploration of the world of food podcasts, I’ve found that this is one of the best.  I’m trying out of few others ones right now and may have to share a list of my favorites in a future post.

But for today, I’m just going to focus on this pesto.  This is something that I think will be in heavy rotation in my apartment this summer for a couple of reasons: 1) The sauce does not require any cooking.  No slaving over a hot stove.  2) While most pestos use mostly basil, this one is tomato-based.  I loved the fresh, sweet taste of fresh tomatoes in my pasta.

I’m lucky enough to live near a place that sells freshly made (not dried) noodles and so I served the sauce with fresh angel hair pasta.  You can use any pasta you would like, though.  You could even try spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons!

Anna’s Pesto Trapanese
makes enough for 4 servings of pasta
adapted from The Splendid Table

– 10 oz fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes
– 8 basil leaves
– 1/4 cup almonds, toasted
– a few slices of peperoncini
– 1 tsp sea salt
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gran Padano cheese

1. Place tomatoes, basil, almonds, peperoncini, and salt into a high-speed blender or food processor.  Blend for about a minute until you have a fine puree.

2. Turn the blender or food processor on low and slowly add the olive oil until incorporated.

3. Toss the pesto with your noodles.  Add cheese and toss again.

* I added this post to this week’s Fat Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

With my Thanksgiving break drawing to a close, I decided that I needed to use my last free day to make a big pot of soup.  Since we didn’t have Thanksgiving at our place, I don’t have any leftovers from the feast.  And since this is my last week of class before finals, I know I’m going to be quite busy with non-culinary projects starting…about…now.  I decided that some healthy and hearty lentil soup would be just the thing to take for lunches for the next few days, especially given the cold and rainy weather we’ve got coming up.

This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks.  I have loved every recipe of hers that I have ever made and this is no exception.  The pictures on her blog and in her cookbooks make me want to go live in her world for a while, which I do by making her food.  I used a little less lemon than she did, but feel free to experiment and see how lemony you want your soup to be.  I highly recommend adding the spinach but have to say I’ll probably be skipping that step with my leftover soup for ease of lunch-packing.  Stay warm, everyone!

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
from Heidi’s at 101 Cookbooks

2 cups / 14 oz / 400 g split red lentils, picked over and rinsed well
1 tablespoon turmeric
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
fine grain sea salt
1 large onion / ~ 2 cups, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of three lemons, or to taste
1 large bunch of spinach leaves, chopped

plenty of cooked (warm) brown rice, to serve
plenty of plain Greek yogurt, to serve

Put the lentils in a pot with 7 cups / 1.6 l water, the turmeric, 1 tablespoon of the butter, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart – twenty minutes or so. Puree with a hand blender. Add more water until the soup is the consistency you like, then taste and add more salt if needed. Keep the soup warm/hot.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the onion. In a skillet over low heat cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter along with the cumin and mustard seeds, stirring occasionally. When the onions have softened, roughly 10 or 15 minutes, add the cilantro and cook for a few seconds before removing from the heat. Add the onion mixture to the soup, then add the juice of the lemons, one lemon at a time – until the soup has a nice bit of tang. Also, add more salt to taste at this point if needed.

Just before serving, add the last of the butter to the skillet, when hot add the spinach and a good pinch of salt. Stir well, and cook just long enough for the spinach to collapse.

Serve by placing a scoop of rice in each bowl, then soup, spinach, and a dollop of yogurt.

Serves 6.

I submitted this post to this week’s “Real Food Wednesday“.

Open-faced Tempeh Reuben

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m playing hookie from school today.  This is a big deal for me as it’s something I rarely do.  When I do skip class, I usually sit around at home worrying that I’m going to miss an important announcement or that the teacher will somehow magically notice me missing from the sea of 60 or so faces before her.  To successfully skip class, I must first make up my mind that it really is a good idea several days in advance.  Then, I have to make countless justifications to myself about why it is ok to skip class this one time.  I haven’t missed one class yet…I’ll get the notes from a classmate…I have a lot of work to do and could really use an extra day…I could be sick for all anyone knows, right?  Right?

So, having done all of that prep work, I’m now having a relaxing morning on my couch and feeling quite good about it.  I’m also here to share a tempeh reuben recipe that made my life at lunch yesterday.  It’s ridiculously easy and it’s perfect for a lazy day of truancy.  My first attempt at this sandwich was not open-faced and I felt like it needed a better filling-to-bread ratio.  Then I remembered my Danish heritage and realized that sandwiches (smørrebrød) really should consist of just one slice of artfully-topped bread.  Bingo.  That’s exactly what it needed and I think I’ll be following this guideline more often.

Open-faced Tempeh Reuben
serves 1

– 1 slice rye bread
– 2 slices tempeh bacon
– 1 Tbs olive oil
– 1 Tbs thousand island dressing
– 1 slice swiss cheese
– 1/4 cup saurkraut

1. Set your oven to broil and toast one side of the rye bread.  Remove from oven and smear the untoasted side with thousand island dressing.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add tempeh bacon and cook according to package directions.

3. Layer the bacon over the thousand island dressing and top with swiss cheese.  Put the sandwich under the broiler until cheese is melty.  Remove from oven.

4. Top with sauerkraut and drizzle with more thousand island, if desired.

Beet, Squash, and White Bean Salad

It’s been one of those weeks.  You know, the kind where you look at the stack of work you have to do and the amount of time you have to do it.  You panic.  You can’t relax.  All the sudden, little setbacks feel like the end of the world.  You become moody and overly-sensitive.  One of those weeks.

So, I decided to start the weekend a little early.  Instead of studying before class this morning, I decided to give myself some kitchen therapy time.  By 9am, I had a pot of white beans with shallots and bay leaves simmering on the stove, a pan of beets and a butternut squash roasting in the oven, and squash seeds getting nice and toasty in a frying pan.  A few hours later, I sat down to lunch.

The template for this salad could be used to create dozens satisfying variations.  Start with greens and vinaigrette, add some kind of legume for protein, and top with still-warm roasted vegetables and toasted nuts or seeds.  Enjoy!

Beet, Squash, and White Bean Salad
serves 1

– 2-3 cups mixed salad greens
– 1/2 cup white beans, canned is fine
– 1/2 cup chopped roasted beets
– 1/2 cup butternut squash, cubed
– 1 Tbs raw or toasted pumpkin seeds
– 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
– 1/2 Tbs olive oil
– 1/2 Tbs honey
– salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Mix vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper until well combined.  Drizzle over plated salad greens.

2.  Top with remaining ingredients.


Unrelated to salad, I feel compelled to share an amazing and hilarious post over at Hyperbole and a Half.  If you are feeling out of sorts, it might do wonders for you.

Orange Tempeh and Stir-Fry

I’ve had one of those weeks where I’ve thought that every day was Friday.  I don’t know why my brain has been trying to trick me…midterms are over and my stress levels have definitely gone down.  I think I’m just in need of some really solid, long nights of sleep.  The transition to winter has made it harder and harder for to get out of bed each day and I’m looking forward to one of those long, lazy, sleepy mornings that only the weekend can provide.

In the meantime, I’ve been seeking out healthy and energizing foods to help mitigate this season’s effect on my energy levels.  For breakfast, I’ve been having either a green smoothie or The Wannabe Chef’s Hot Banana Breakfast Quinoa (so good).  Lunch today was a lazy version of my Sweet Potato Nachos in which I elected to microwave the sweet potato and used only refried beans, salsa, and sour cream as toppings.

For dinner I tried a new recipe for Orange Tempeh from (again) The Wannabe Chef.  It was surprisingly easy and un-fussy.  Which is good because I don’t think I’ve ever cooked tempeh and it’s always a little intimidating to add a new food to the repertoire.  Evan’s recipe is reproduced below and the only thing I would add is that I did not end up needing to use all the starch.  I just slowly added it at the end until the texture looked right.  I ate the tempeh with jasmine rice and stir-fried broccoli, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms.  Enjoy!

Orange Tempeh
serves 2

– 1 block tempeh, cubed
– juice from half an orange
– 2 Tbs agave syrup
– 1 Tbs soy sauce
-1/2 Tbs sesame oil
-2 tsp rice vinegar
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 tsp siracha sauce (optional)
– 1/2 Tbs tapioca or cor starch mixed with 2 Tbs water

1. Mix together the orange juice, agave, soy sauce, vinegar, salt and sesame oil in a small bowl.

2. Pour the mixture into a frying pan and heat over a burner set to medium.

3. Add tempeh and coat.  Cook until half the liquid has boiled off, about 5 minutes.

4. Slowly pour the dissolved starch into the pan, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.  Add water if the sauce seems to thick.

5. Remove from heat and serve over rice and vegetables.

Here’s all the veggies I stir-fried.  Plenty for leftovers!

Spaghetti Squash with Fried Sage Crisps

Wow, I didn’t think I would ever find a squash I liked more than delicata squash.  For taste and ease of preparation, it is hard to beat.  But I took a chance on spaghetti squash today and feel that my loyalties may have shifted.

I’m a bit surprised that I have never had spaghetti squash in my kitchen before today.  I think I’ve worked with just about every other type of squash but something always turned me off about the spaghetti.  Maybe it was that I didn’t feel I could trust a vegetable masquerading as a pasta.

Now I know better.  This dish is extremely simple, has a short ingredient list, and perfectly embodies the fall flavors I’ve been craving lately.  It’s a keeper.

Spaghetti Squash with Fried Sage Crisps

– 1 spaghetti squash, halved with seeds removed
– 2 Tbs olive oil
– a stalk of sage leaves
– butter, to taste
– salt, to taste

1. Roast spaghetti squash at 375F for 20-30 minutes, until easily pierced by a fork.
2. Prepare the sage leave.  Chop leaves in to small, sprinkle-sized pieces.  Heat oil over medium-high heat and fry sage for about 5 seconds.  Remove from heat and transfer to a paper towel to cool.  They will become crisp as they cool.
3. When the squash is ready, use a fork to remove the flesh.  Toss with butter and salt.  Top with sage crisps.


I’m glad I finally got a post up here, since it has been a little while.  I’ve been so overwhelmed with school that I haven’t had much time for anything else.  My seeming inability to juggle schoolwork, apartment maintenance, and a meager social life has been getting me down this week and I’m hoping for a moment soon in which I can relax and catch my breath.  I hope everyone is having a good Halloween!

Pumpkin Power Breakfasts

Breakfast is definitely my favorite meal.  There are so many ways to do it well without spending a lot of time in the kitchen and buying expensive ingredients.  Seriously, the same meal invented omelets, oatmeal, AND smoothies?!  Genius.  I’ve been known to eat breakfast-y items for every meal of the day.  And I’m ok with that.

In honor of fall, I decided to try a couple new pumpkin-infused breakfast bowls this week.  The first is a pumpkin pudding inspired by a recipe I saw at Spinach and Yoga.  It looked like just the thing to help me break out of my oatmeal rut.  The second was a magical amalgamation of my favorite Rice Porridge bowl and aforementioned pumpkin pudding.  Both are recipes I will be returning to for sustenance and comfort as my midterm exams draw near this and next week.

Pumpkin Pudding
serves 1
(Chia seeds won’t digest well unless they’re allowed to soak in liquid before consumption.  Plan to make this at least an hour before you plan to eat it; overnight is best.)

– 1 cup pureed pumpkin (I used canned)
– 1 cup almond milk
– 1 1/2 Tbs chia seeds
– 1 Tbs ground flax seeds
– 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
– generous sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– a handful of raisins
– a few walnuts (optional)
– agave or maple syrup (optional)

1.  Blend pumpkin, almond milk, chia and flax seeds, protein powder, spices and vanilla extract until ingredients are well incorporated.  Scoop into bowl, mix in raisins and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

2.  When you’re ready to eat, heat in the microwave for about a minute until warm.  Garnish with walnuts and agave, if desired.


Pumpkin Power Porridge
serves 1, generously

– 1/4 cup brown rice cereal (directions for making your own here)
– 1 cup water
– 1 banana, mashed well
– 1/4 c pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
– 1/2 scoop of your favorite protein powder (optional)
– a handful of raisins
– a few dashes each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 Tbs ground flax seeds

1. Mix all ingredients except flax in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook stirring frequently until rice is softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Top with flax.


Creamy Cannellini Bean Sauce with Pasta and Vegetables

I can hardly remember the last time I made pasta.  It’s not that I have anything against Italian food (it’s one of my favorites!) but pasta, to me, seems like a treat better saved for a romantic night out than something cooked at home.  The problem is that I can’t bring myself to do the whole wheat noodle thing.  I want to be healthy but there’s something about the texture or taste of whole wheat pasta that just ruins it for me entirely.  Enter Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta…

It’s a bit of a misnomer since it seems to also have a healthy amount of corn but I’m not complaining.  It has more fiber and protein than regular semolina pasta and doesn’t turn all mushy the way rice pasta does.  Instead, it keeps a nice chewy texture when it’s cooked, which just the way I like it.  It was on sale at the grocery store this weekend and so I decided that now was the time to give it a try.

This recipe is adapted from Yvonne and Julie’s blog.  I changed it a bit to reflect what’s in season right now but otherwise stayed pretty true to their version.  I realized after I’d done my grocery shopping that mushrooms would have been the perfect addition!

Creamy Cannellini Bean Sauce with Pasta and Vegetables
serves 4

– 1 package Quinoa Harvest Pasta Pagodas (or your favorite pasta type)
– 10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 2 Tbs + 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
– 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
– juice from 1/2 of a lemon
– 1 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 large head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1/4 cup hazelnuts

1. First, toast the hazelnuts in a saucepan over medium heat, shaking regularly to make sure the don’t burn.  Remove from heat, allow to cool, and roughly chop.

2. Cook the garlic in 2 Tbs olive oil over medium heat (don’t let the garlic get brown).  Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Steam vegetables until slightly tender.

4.  While the pasta and vegetables are cooking, make the sauce.  Place sautéed garlic, beans, remaining olive oil, rosemary, salt, and lemon in the blender.  Add coconut milk as needed to reach desired consistency.  Sauce should be thick but pourable.

5. When the pasta is done drain and return to pot.  And sauce and vegetables and mix it all together.  Scoop into bowl and garnish with hazelnuts to serve.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, if desired.

Well, I’m off to get some studying done.  I get a little panicky when I look at all the assignments I have due in the next couple of weeks but I just have to remember to take it one thing at a time.  Deep breath 🙂