Lemon tahini over lentils

What is vegan, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, added sugar free, and wheat free?

A California dinner party.

…get it? because Californias are such hippies?!

Ok, not the best joke but this dinner is. The best.

And yes, it’s vegan; nut, soy, dairy, sugar, and wheat free.

More importantly, it’s delicious.

Also important: it’s easy.

Most importance: Mike loves it. (Which makes me want to make it every week which means he might get tired of it soon…)

I hope you give this dinner a try soon! You won’t regret it. I’ve mentioned it’s delicious and easy but it’s also SUPER FILLING which is a real selling point for me. The lentils keep ya full (13g plant based protein per 1/4 cup ehyoo) but the tahini and lemon dressing make it feel like you’re indulging. Feel free to add any green veggie you have on hand; or serve the lentils and tahini on top of a giant salad for a summer night twist.

Tip: I’ve recently started soaking my lentils before cooking them (to get more protein and other added benefits!) because of this article.

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Soaking lentils

Lemon tahini over lentils

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup soaked green lentils
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 small lemon

Directions:

  • Cook lentils in 2 cups of water until soft, about 25 – 30 minutes
  • Strain lentils and put aside
  • Mix in lemon juice with tahini until combined
  • Incorporate with lentils
  • Serve with something green on the side
  • Bon appétit

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I add the lemon and tahini straight to the lentils to be sure they are all coated but alternatively you can drizzle it on top of them once plated

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Moroccan Stew

It’s winter in California which means rain, rain, and more rain. That’s good news for my drought prone home state but I find the winter blues creeping in. This dinner is perfect for warming both your body and soul; great for the nights we’ve been having!

The cumin and paprika in it gives it a nice kick that keeps you cozy. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients and, I don’t know about you, but I always feel better about myself when I’m filled with nourishing food.

This would be a perfect dish to bring to a neighbor or to enjoy with family because it makes a lot. And who doesn’t love a yummy stew (that someone else made!) on a cold night?! Consider making it for someone special in your life. (Bonus points if you pair it with a crusty baguette or a side of pre-cooked rice to really round out the meal for your loved ones.)

Side note, I don’t know how I came up with this name but this is what I called it years ago when I first made this dish and it’s sticking. 😉


Moroccan Stew

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 35 minutes – Servings: Enough to share 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 32 ounces of vegetable broth
  • 28 ounces of diced tomatoes
  • 1 box of chickpeas (~13oz)
  • 1 bag frozen kale (or spinach)
  • optional: brown rice or bread to serve with

Directions

  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent and fragrant
  • Add carrots and potatoes for 4 – 6 minutes
  • Add cumin and paprika
  • Add vegetable broth and bring to boil
  • Reduce heat and add tomatoes, simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add kale during the last 5 minutes so it doesn’t go brown
  • Scope and serve

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Cooking and catching up on Netflix!
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Love Whole Foods BPA free cans (Trader Joe’s get on it!)

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Like many of my recipes, my inspo for this came from Oh She Glows. That, and a pesky bag of Trader Joe’s roasted carrots I’ve been trying to get rid of…

In the new year, when I was doing a big TJ’s haul, I came across a bag of multicolored roasted carrots in the freezer aisle. FUN, I thought, picking up a bag and putting it in my cart. Apparently I was the only one who thought cooked carrots were fun delicious…

A week or two passed and I still had that bag of roasted carrots in my freezer when I found out my grandparents would be coming down to visit. One of my favorite things to do is cook for my family and friends so I knew I wanted to make them dinner the night they arrived. I had a plan to make chicken in our sous vide, garlic cheesy bread, peas, and those roasted carrots!

…Until my grandma told me my grandpa doesn’t like cooked carrots (what!?). I nixed the carrots and told Mike. That’s when he told me he actually doesn’t like cooked carrots either (double what!?).

Fast forward to a girl’s night at my next door neighbors’ house last week. We were doing wine and heavy apps. I brought cheese, salami, hummus, snap peas, spanakopita, and, as a last minute edition, I cooked up those roasted carrots. Badda bing, I was going to use them after all!

Or so I thought… Everything was a hit, except for the carrots.

Full of apps wine, and laughs, I walked home with my glass container still full of roasted carrots. Damn. I really hate wasting food so I plopped them in my refrigerator hoping I would get around to eating them (the whole bag, by myself) before they turned…

AND THEN I stumbled upon the genius idea to make hummus with them. Yes! Let’s go.

The great thing about this recipe is the carrots basically double your hummus volume. Plus, if you cheat and buy pre-roasted carrots like I did, it’s super simple. Also a win, Mike is going to eat those roasted carrots and have no idea 😉 mwahahaha

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 5 minutes – Servings: A LOT 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of roasted carrots* (if you can’t find the pre-roasted, I would follow the Oh She Glows recipe on how to roast them yourself)
  • 1 can or box (no BPA!) of chickpeas
  • Chickpea water, reserved
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Garlic clove and salt to taste
  • Cumin to taste (optional)

*note: the carrots I bought were roasted in thyme but I think you can change the herb here to whatever you have on hand

Directions: 

  • Add everything but the carrots to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Slowly add carrots and blend until smooth
  • Pour out and serve with veggies and crackers

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Look at all of that HUMMUS!

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Vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce

YOU GUYS. This recipe is a winner. With one of my closet friends as my inspo (read about her wedding we just went to here), I whipped up this vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce to serve over spaghetti squash tonight and it’s so creamy, you wouldn’t even know there isn’t cheese in it.

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I’ll admit, there’s a bit of prep work (more than I usually do on a Monday) with roasting the bell peppers. And I made my own cashew milk, which obviously added time. You can prep the cashew milk the night before to save a few minutes but I do highly recommend making your own nut milk for this one; since it’s a savory dish.

I know you can buy unsweetened nut milk but it just always has a hint of sweet in my opinion. Besides, if you can avoid added ingredients, why not? Making your own nut milk is actually super simple. The only pitfall is it doesn’t keep for too long (no preservatives!) but I’ll give you the exact amounts I used for this recipe below.

That means, this post is actually two recipes in one! Your lucky day, friends.

As mentioned, I put this sauce over spaghetti squash (that I did prep the day before) but you can dip bread and veggies in it or use it as a sub for a more creamy pizza sauce.


Vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce

Prep time:  45 minutes – Cook time: 5 minutes – Servings: 2 – 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 chopped shallots
  • 2 – 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 – 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup cashew milk*
  • 2 Tbs of nutritional yeast
  • A few dashes of red chili flakes (optional)
  • Basil for garnish

Directions:

  • Roast bell peppers in a 450 degree toaster oven for 30 minutes or until skin is charred
  • Tent bell peppers in tin foil to steam for 10 minutes and then remove skin and seeds
  • Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil
  • Add peppers, sautéd shallots and garlic, cashew milk, nutritional yeast, and red chili flakes to blender and blend until smooth
  • Garnish and serve 🙂

 

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Roast
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Peel
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Blend
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Pour

*For the cashew milk:

  • Simply soak 1/2 cup unsalted cashews in water for ~8 hours (I soaked mine while I was at work today)
  • Drain cashews and add to blender with 1/2 cup of water
  • Blend and strain in a nut milk bag

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olive oil chocolate chip cookies

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a baker. I cook like the Balinese* with little direction and not a single measurement. From what I gather, baking requires all of the direct and pretty much exact measurements.

Not my world.

Until I saw a recipe for olive oil chocolate chip cookies and I thought, well, that sounds de-lish.

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Reading the recipe conjured up images of rolling hills, a perfectly breezy-sunny afternoon, and olive trees. Olive trees all around me and Mike! On a picnic! Romantically sipping rosé, staring into each other’s eyes, and eating these cookies.

A girl can dream!

Real life though, I pulled out our measuring cups, propped up my iPad, and scrolled through the recipe every 3.5 seconds to re-read the same line again and again. Why is it so hard to remember what comes next and how much of it?! Eventually these gems came out of the oven and – one word – bliss!

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* When we took a cooking class in Bali, our instructor was making the corn fritters and cracked 4 eggs into the mix. As he did, he said something along the lines of “this recipe takes 4 eggs… or 5 eggs.. or 3 eggs… really how ever many eggs you have will work!”

Mike and I immediately exchanged glances because that’s exactly how I cook; how ever many I have …works!


olive oil chocolate chip cookies

Prep time:  15 minutes + 20 minutes for chilling – Cook time: 10 – 12 minutes – Servings: 12 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 bar dark chocolate, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In large bowl, mix together butter, oil, and sugars until fluffy
  • Add egg and vanilla
  • In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt
  • Mix flour mixture into sugar mixture until combined
  • Fold in chocolate
  • Chill in refrigerate for 20 minutes
  • Scoop 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet 1 inch apart
  • Bake for 10 – 12 munites
  • Take out, let cool slightly, break and enjoy!

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So NOM

[Meatless Monday] DYI veg burgers

It’s a weird day over here in the Bay Area! It was HOT this afternoon and then raining with thunder and lighting when I got home from work. It’s stormy and gloomy without the cold. All of my windows are open, along with the patio door. The smell of rain is filling my apartment (that, and the smell of a musky candle I have burning too). My lemon tree is happy for the drops of rain. It’s a cozy Monday afternoon. Perfect for experimenting in the kitchen!

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Mike and I avoid meat whenever we can. Veg burgers are on regular rotation over here and although there are some good brands out there (Dr. Praegar’s is my favorite!), I love making my own with only a few ingredients. This recipe was super easy with only 2 main ingredients and some spices and condiments. It can easily be a “kitchen sink” recipe by subbing out the Great Northern beans and rice for whatever you have on hand (quinoa and black beans would be great as well).

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Plus you make now and freeze them for later. I actually find that they heat up better this way because they are frozen into place before pan-frying.

If you’re doing this, I suggest doubling the batch to get the most of your time. 🙂

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If freezing, use parchment paper in-between burgers to keep from sticking

 


DIY veg burgers with a grain and a bean

Prep time:  25 minutes – Cook time: 10 minutes – Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry rice, cooked according to package
  • 1 can Great Northern Beans
  • 1 TBS Trader Joe’s Onion Salt
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 1 egg

*you can sub the onion salt for other spices and the hot sauce for mustard or ketchup, etc.

Directions:

  • Mash rice, beans, egg, and spices together until gooey
  • Refrigerate for 20 minutes
  • Round into burgers
  • Freeze or pan fry until middle in warm (about 4 minutes each side on a slightly oiled pan)
  • Dress up and serve

 

[HACK] basically no oil roasted veggies

I try to incorporate veg into every meal and while it doesn’t always happen for breakfast, or sometimes lunch, you can bet there are making an appearance for dinner. Every night. Without fail, we have something green to eat (or red or purple or orange, you get it).

I’ve found buying organic frozen vegetables is a very sustainable way to do this. I alternate between broccoli, green beans, asparagus, peas (my favorite!), and sometimes corn.

I also love roasted veggies but don’t love all of the oil needed to get them nice and crispy. Happily, I’ve found the ice/water from the frozen vegetable can drastically reduce the amount of oil you need to roast them.

Another reason to stock up and love on frozen vegetables!

All I do is spray my cooking sheet with an organic Spanish olive oil, pour the veggies on, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how toasty you like them! (I like mine extra charred so they’re in there for a while.)

Frosty frozen!

Sprinkle with some pink Himalayan sea salt and there you go; all of the nom, way less of the oil.

End note: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against some good olive oil however, I typically have a generous amount of it at lunch on my salad so prefer to stay away from more at dinner.

Smashed Pea Bruschetta

Have you ever made a recipe that made you want to throw a party just to make it again for all of your friends? That’s what happen to me with this smashed pea bruschetta. Seriously nom and so easy.

Each bite was a perfect combination of creamy (I’m looking at you, ricotta) and crunchy (toasted sourdough, whatsup); not to mention those powerhouse peas (so many vitamins and minerals!) and bits of basil really bringing out the flavor.

This recipe is going into the favorites box, y’all! I love that it is versatile too. It can be a simple, light, delicious dinner on a hot summer night or a lovely start to a dinner party with friends. You can also pair it with grilled shrimp or a big, giant salad for a more hearty meal (or soup in the winter). The ingredients are few but the options are plenty. Double win.

Note: I served this with a side of sautéed spinach and mushrooms to stay in line with my 3 meals in 15 ingredients.

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Smashed Pea Bruschetta

Prep time: 10 minutes* – Cook time: 5minutes – Servings: 2

*I used frozen peas and defrosted them in the refrigerator the night before

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 ricotta
  • 5 – 6 basil leaves, chopped finely
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • S&P to taste

Directions: 

  • While bread is toasting….
  • Smash peas! I used the pestle (from our mortar) to smash them
  • Add ricotta, chopped basil, and S&P
  • Scoop onto toasted bread and top with sliced tomatoes
  • Serve

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#vegvibes

Pea and Parmesan Farro

Have you cooked with farro before? They sell it at Trader Joe’s and it’s great when you want to mix things up.

Farro has a slightly nutty taste and a chewy consistency, almost like gnocchi. I make it with vegetable broth to add more flavor and learned by trail and error not to follow the instructions on the little blue bag (more on that below).

Basically farro is yummy, cheap, and versatile. I made this dish with peas and a side of roasted vegetables, all that came from my list of 15 ingredients! (If you prep and cut your vegetables before, the prep time for this one is basically non-existent. All about that!)

There were plenty of leftovers which can be paired with toast (also on the list) for another easy meal.

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Pea and Parmesan Farro

Prep time: 0 – 5 minutes – Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 package farro
  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • 1 cup peas (I used frozen)
  • Optional: veggies to roast as a side

Directions: 

  • The bag of farro instructs you to cook the grain like rice, covered and simmering in boiling water. I like to use veg broth because it give it more flavor. I still simmer it but leave the pot without a lid so the steam can evaporate. It you don’t want to do this method, feel free to go by the insturctions listed on the package 🙂
  • When the farro has absorbed all of the broth (~20 minutes), I added my cup of frozen peas and have it a good stir to heat the peas through
  • Plate and top with parm
  • Re. a side, while my farro was simmering, I roasted zucchini and mushrooms, which gave us enough farro for leftovers! Refrigerate to reheat and serve with sourdough toast – on the list of 15 ingredients! – for another quick weeknight meal

 

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#vegvibes

Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna

When I think of lasagna, a few memories rush to mind…

I remember visiting my grandparents on winter breaks and opening their freezer to boxes of Stouffer’s Lasagna. In between breaks from playing Barbies and Briarberry bears (did anyone else play with these?!) I would tear open a red cardboard box and pop that plastic try of noodles, cheese, and marinara sauce in the microwave. A few minutes later, BAM, piping hot lasagna waiting for me to eat before blissfully going back to playing make believe.

I also remember Mike picking me up in the first few months of us dating for dinner in North Beach, the Italian district in San Francisco. We went to a cozy little restaurant and sat at a table for two by the window. I ordered the lasagna and probably broke some dating “rule” by finishing every last bite. Who can resist melty cheese and carbohydrates? Not this girl.

Lastly, I distinctly remember the first time I made my own lasagna and packed it with as many veggies as I could. Carrots in the sauce! Spinach in the ricotta! (Arguably healthier than the Stouffer’s and North Beach variety.) Bless Mike for eating my cooking without complaint!

My point is, I love me some good layered lasagna! But it’s a dish that screams WINTER. I wanted to lighten it up for the warmer months and knew replacing the noddles with lighter zucchini would do the trick!

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pro tip: let a paper towel absorb the water in your zucchini before baking



Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna

Prep time: 20 minutes – Cook time: 40 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 – 7 small zucchini sliced in long thin pieces*
  • 4 – 5 small ripe JUICY tomatoes (if you can’t find any, a strained can of fire-roasted tomatoes will do
  • 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

* Important step: after you slice the zucchini, place the stripes on paper towels for ~20 minutes to absorb some of the water *

Directions:

  • Sauté the minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant
  •  Add mushrooms and tomatoes (getting all of the seeds and juice in there to give it more of a sauce consistency)
  • While your sauce is cooking, add chopped spinach to ricotta and mix well
  • After mushrooms and tomatoes are cooked, spread a thin layer on the bottom of a pan (I used a small enough one for two but the size will depend on how much you’re making)
  • Layer zucchini slices on top of sauce and then the spinach and ricotta cheese mixture
  • Top with mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Repeat 3/4 times, depending on how many zucchini you have
  • Top with parmesan cheese
  • Bake at 350 for 40 minutes

#vegvibes