Garbanzo and White Bean Salad

chickpeas Garbanzo and White Bean Salad

Garbanzo Bean Salad

This is a great recipe for BBQs, quick lunches or just about any occasion you can think of. I also love bean salads, but I always forget to make them! The original recipe called for beans and herbs that I didn’t have so I made my own veggie combination, but stuck with her recipe for the dressing. You really do need the sugar in the dressing or it just doesn’t taste right!
Garbanzo and White Bean Salad

2 15 oz cans of Garbanzo Beans
1 15 oz can of white beans
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped basil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.

Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.


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Pasta with Pesto, Kale and Green Beans

pesto Pasta with Pesto, Kale and Green Beans

It is that time of the summer when basil plants look like tiny shrubs and smell good enough to sit down and eat, leaf by leaf. This is generally frowned upon though, or at least not encouraged so may I suggest this recipe instead? The original called for potatoes too, but we didn’t have potatoes, we had tons and tons of kale, so I went that route instead. I think it would work with just about any greens. It was a pretty simple recipe and don’t skip the toasting of the nuts and the garlic. It has a huge impact on the flavors.

The recipe says 6 servings, but I think it is more like 6-8.

Pasta with Pesto, Kale and Green Beans
Serves 6
¼ Cup pistachios
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1-2 pounds of kale
Salt and Pepper
12 oz of green beans, cut into 1 ½ inch lengths
2 Cups fresh basil leaves
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound gemelli
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces and chilled
1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Toast the nuts and garlic in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until nuts are golden and fragrant and garlic darkens slightly, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool. Peel garlic and chop coarsely.
  2. Steam the kale with salt and pepper until it is tender.
  3. Steam the green beans until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside.
  4. Process basil, Parmesan, oil, nuts, garlic, and ½ tsp salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.
  5. Boil another pot of water and when it comes to a boil, add gemelli to water and cook until al dente. Set colander in large bowl. Drain gemellit in colander, reserving cooking water in bowl. Return gemelli to pot. Add butter, lemon juice, potatoes and green beans, pesto, 1 ¼ cups reserved cooking water, and ½ tsp pepper and stir vigorously with rubber spatula until sauce takes on creamy appearance. Add additional cooking water as needed to adjust consistency and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
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Summer Squash Sauté

shreddedzuchinni 002 Summer Squash Sauté

Summer Squash with toasted almonds

I came across this recipe and was elated because it uses two new tools I recently purchased. This one and this one. You should probably buy both of them as soon as you can because they make life so much easier! The garlic slicer also makes nice little chocolate shaving if you need something like that.
The three of us have been eating this once or twice a week now for about a month. We are always looking for good ways to use summer squash and this is a great, non-baked good, way of using them. It is also amazingly fast so it makes a great dinner for a weeknight. It is also very easy to scale up or down depending on your family size AND it is impressive enough to serve to guests. How’s that for versatile recipe?

This appeared in Bon Apetit
Summer Squash Sauté
Serves 4

2 lbs summer squash and or zucchini cut into matchsticks (use a mandoline with a julienne attachment or julienne peeler)
1 tsp kosher salt plus more
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Place squash in a colander set in the sink or over a large bowl and toss with 1 tsp. salt. Let squash stand 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much excess moisture as possible (do not rinse.)

Meanwhile, toast almonds in a large dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool.

Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Fold in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Fold in almonds.

If you don’t want to deal with matchsticks, you can just use a vegetable peeler to create vegetable ribbons and proceed with the recipe! There are many variations you can do this, BA suggests Chile+Lime, Carrot + Miso, or Cumin + Coriander.  Nick and I haven’t bothered trying anything other than this first iteration because it is so good!

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Pineapple-Cashew Stir-Fry

IMG 2163 614x410 Pineapple Cashew Stir Fry

Pineapple-Cashew Stir Fry


Of all the recipes we have tried over the last few weeks, this is far and away the best.  It has two of my favorite ingredients: pineapple and cashews, is fast to cook and is the kind of dish where you have to remind yourself to slow down while you eat it.


Lately I’ve been trying to build up a repertoire of fast, nutritious recipes because I’m already starting to think about how I will be able to feed Nick and myself when the baby arrives. We’ve already decided we would spend a good bit of time cooking and freezing meals in August for the first few weeks, but I think we’ll also make a bunch of grains and beans ahead of time too so that we can just thaw them and throw together a meal like this after the initial shock of parenthood has worn off, I think cooking will be rather therapeutic. We’ll see though!


Anyway, this one is good for a quick weeknight meal no matter what you are expecting. The recipe is from the Veganomicon.



1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup cold water

¼ tsp soy sauce



4 ounces cashews, raw and unsalted

3 tbsp peanut oil – we used sesame oil because of Nick

2 scallions, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 hot red chile, sliced into very thin rounds

½ inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup frozen peas or cooked edamame

½ cup fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced into thin shreds

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

10 oz fresh pineapple, cut into bite-size chucks—this will be able two cups (we used canned pineapple so we would have the juice too.)

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp vegetable stock

1 tbsp mirin

lime wedges for garnish


Prepare the quinoa first: Combine the quinoa, juice, water and soy sauce in a medium-size pot. Cover, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir a few times, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 12-14 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is plumped and slightly translucent. Uncover, fluff and let cool.


Prepare the stir-fry

Use the largest nonstick skillet you have or a wok. Have all of the ingredients chopped and ready. Place the cashews in the dry pan and heat over low heat, stirring them, until lightly toasted, 4-5minutes.


Remove the cashews from the pan, raise the heat to medium and add the oil, scallions and the garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle add the sliced chile pepper and ginger. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes then add the bell pepper and peas. Stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes, until the bell pepper is softened and the peas are bright green. Add the basil and mint and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.


In a measuring cup, combine the soy sauce the vegetable stock and the mirin. Pour over the quinoa mixtures. Stir to incorporate completely and coat the quinoa. Continue to stir-fry for 14 minutes, until the quinoa is very hot. Serve with lime wedges and additional soy sauce and season to taste.




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Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms

MG 4775 614x410 Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms

Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms


There was a period of time this year, maybe about a month ago, where I had time to experiment and try some recipes that I’ve had bookmarked for ages, but hadn’t been able to try. This is the first of a series of recipes like that.  I think this was my favorite of the dishes I tried. It is a creamy polenta with roasted mushrooms and kale chips! The BEST part about this dish is how fast it is! If you don’t add the kale chips or already have them made, it is even faster! And this dish also has a fried egg on top, which to me, is equal to heaven.

Here is the original link to the recipe.

It says it serves 3, but we just made two fried eggs and had a little left over polenta.

Parmesan Polenta with Eggs and Roasted Mushrooms
Serves 3 (main course portions)

1 lb mushrooms
1/8 c olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 c polenta
1 c milk
1 c water
pinch salt
1/2 c shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
3 eggs
chives for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 475.
2. Chop mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.
3. Toss mushrooms with oil, pepper flakes, and salt on a baking sheet.
4. Spread in single layer and roast until browned, about 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, whisk polenta, milk, water, and salt together in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, covered.
6. After reaching a boil, turn heat to low and let sit with lid cracked for 15 minutes.
7. While polenta is cooking, heat nonstick skillet over medium heat and crack the eggs so that they are sunny side up.
8. Cook about a minute and then add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet. Water will sizzle – cover so the yolks steam and set to your liking. I like mine somewhat viscous so I wait for the steamed yolks to ‘skin’ over with egg white. This will happen naturally with the method above.
9. Mix Parmesan into polenta, plate on a dish, spoon mushrooms over and top with egg. Garnish with snipped chives. Eat and enjoy!


I added the kale chips because we had a big bunch of it and I had been meaning to try making the chips for a long time! It complimented the mushrooms perfectly and I’ve become obsessed with making sure I get veggies, protein and carbs with every meal now because I want our little baby to grow nicely. So far she/he seems to be growing at a good pace and also seems to have gotten enough protein because she thinks she is a boxer. She is frequently kicking and punching me while I’m editing pictures or replying to emails, while I’m driving or while I’m reading. I don’t think she likes to sit still either! Anyway, this dish was a hit with me, with the pozor (that’s what we call the baby) and with Nick. You should make it tonight!



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Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

Quinoa 614x410 Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango


When I get invited to a barbecue I immediately start going through my list of recipes: potato salad, macaroni salad, lentil-beet salad, tofu burgers, etc. I love all of these recipes, but they have to make room for one more because this spring I found a perfect picnic salad recipe in the Veganomicon—Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango.


The wonderful thing about this recipe is how flexible and quick it is to make. You can use any left over grains, beans or fruit you have in the house. Lately we’ve been using a lot of quinoa though because I need the extra protein, but imagine Israeli couscous, bulgur or wheatberries would also be nice!


It is perfect for picnics because there is no dairy, it is fast and tastes better at room temperature than it does chilled.


And now the recipe!


1 mango, peeled and cut into small dice

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced as small as you can get it

1 cup chopped scallions

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp grapeseed oil

¼ tsp salt

2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled*

1 (15oz) can black beans drained and rinsed



Combine the mango, bell pepper, scallion and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add the red wine vinegar, grapeseed oil, and salt, and stir to combine. Add the quinoa and stir until everything is well incorporated. Fold in the black beans. You can serve immediately or let it sit for a bit for the flavors to meld.

We also added two handfuls of spinach just because we had it on hand. I think it is best to add the spinach right before you serve it so it doesn’t get too oily or wilted.


*if you don’t already have some cooked quinoa, don’t fret! It is very easy. Just bring 1 cup of dried quinoa and two cups of water to a boil in a small pot. Once it has started to boil, lower the heat so it is simmering and cook for about 15 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Then remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Set it aside and let it cool while you prep the other ingredients for the recipe!

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Oven-Roasted Tomatoes by Saveur

RoastedTomatoes 614x410 Oven Roasted Tomatoes by Saveur

Roasted Tomatoes with herbs and garlic

This recipe comes from Saveur magazine and is my pick of the summer. It is fast and delicious and requires little prep or work on your part. Just pick fresh tomatoes and you are set. This one is perfect for a few more days (?) or a week (?). Fresh tomatoes are still available and the heat from the blazing oven won’t be an annoyance and may in fact be welcome depending on the day. We’ve made this three times already this summer and plan to make it one more time before we leave for Europe. The first time we made it was while we were canning pasta sauce at my parents’ house. That’s how easy it is to make. Also, you can see the peach jam in the background of the top photo. Without further ado, the recipe!

MG 7801 614x410 Oven Roasted Tomatoes by Saveur

Prepping the tomatoes and garlic

Roasted Tomatoes


6 medium tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled (we did two cloves of garlic for every tomato)
and lightly crushed
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste

1. Heat oven to 425°. Place tomatoes, garlic, and thyme on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake, brushing tomatoes occasionally with the oil, until tomatoes soften and their skins split, about 25 minutes.
2.Transfer tomatoes, along with juices, to a serving dish and serve warm with crusty bread.

This recipe was first published in Saveur in Issue #130

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Apricot Fennel Ricotta Sandwiches

MG 8328 615x410 Apricot Fennel Ricotta Sandwiches

Apricot Fennel Ricotta Sandwiches

I saw this recipe in the Chicago Tribune food section and despite having just finished breakfast immediately wanted to make and devour these. Then, as usually happens, I made note of the recipe, got distracted with the millions of other things I want to try to make and forgot about it.

When I cleaned out my office the other day I came across it and again was amazed I hadn’t tried it yet. We finally had occasion to make it when our friends Sudha and Evan came over for brunch in late August. These little sandwiches were everything I thought they would be and more. Before I give the recipe though, I have to give Sudha credit for the rich and drool-worthy French cream she made to pour over our fresh fruit. It was like eating melted ice cream. So. Good.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the killer sandwiches. Think Grahamwich (new restaurant opening in Chicago that serves gourmet sandwiches) will have anything better than this? Doubt it. But then, I don’t really like Graham Elliot and his upscale, classist shenanigans.

A few notes before the recipe:

Star anise is my favorite spice to cook with, it is beautiful and fragrant, and who doesn’t love just looking at it? Such an intricately shaped spice…wow.

We used dried apricots because the fresh ones are no longer in season. We used Turkish one so they were darker than the ones found in most supermarkets.

We chopped a lot more pistachios than the recipe calls for because we are fiends for them.

MG 8326 615x410 Apricot Fennel Ricotta Sandwiches

Dried Apricots and Fennel

Apricot and fennel sandwiches with ricotta, pistachios and black pepper

Prep: 25 minutes Cook: 15 minutes Makes: 4 sandwiches (It can make more if you make open faced sandwiches.)

1 cup each: sugar, water

4 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

¼ tsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed

6 apricots, pitted, quartered Sliced bread

½-1 bulb fennel, sliced crosswise into thin strips

½ pound ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios ½ tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1.     Combine sugar, water, star anise, cinnamon and crushed pepper in a saucepan; heat to a boil. Reduce the heat; simmer 2 minutes. Add the apricots and fennel. Heat to a simmer; cook until the apricots are soft and the fennel has just a slight crunch, about 10 minutes.

2.     Grill or toast the bread on both sides. Spread the ricotta on each slice; top with the apricot/fennel mixture. Finish with the pistachios; season with salt and pepper to taste.

We had leftover apricot mix and ricotta so the next day Nick and I mixed them together and it was like eating cannoli filling. I love eating ricotta in various forms for dessert and this is my new favorite.

This is another any time of day recipe. I love recipes like this! I find myself making more and more like this. What’s your favorite sandwich combination?

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Green Pasta

GreenPasta1 615x410 Green Pasta

Green Pasta with Pesto and Zucchini

September came out of nowhere, how did the summer slip away?? Today is warm and a little humid, but Labor Day weekend is approaching and with it weather that gently reminds us that summer is exiting and cooler weather is due  soon. With the changing seasons I thought it was time to catch up on some of the dishes I’ve made over the summer.

This dish is representative of the kind of cooking I have been doing lately. I haven’t really been following recipes this summer, as much as combining the fresh vegetables I have from my garden with the hilariously large store of dried beans and grains we have at home. This dish came together one day in July because my basil was going crazy and the zucchini in the refrigerator longed to be something other than bread.

So this is a really easy dish to make. It is pasta, pesto and zucchini. I placed a steamer in large pot, cut the zucchini into short little sticks and steamed them. Set them aside after about 10 minutes of steaming and then used the water from that process (with a little more added) to boil the pasta. Add the pesto I had made the day before, a little extra garlic, salt and pepper, throw some cheese (feta, Parmesan, goat, whatever) and that’s that!

Nick and I ate this for about a week. It was a large impromptu recipe so the only thing I might do differently is use a small zucchini or cook less pasta, I love left overs, but everyone has their limits. Mine is about a week.

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Warm Balsamic Bean Salad

limabeans Warm Balsamic Bean Salad

Warm Balsamic Lima Bean Salad

I love Lima Beans. They are a much-maligned food and I can not for the life of me figure out why! I bought some after eating lima bean paste at a restaurant near our house. I wasn’t sure how to use them, but then I got the infrequent, but always welcome, email for quick weekday dinners from  “The Splendid Table.” This ‘Warm Balsamic Bean Salad’ is  easy, satisfying and simple to modify.

The original recipe calls for it to be served on a bed of greens, which would have been tasty, but I happened to have peas and asparagus on hand because in the spring I want to eat nothing else. So instead of lettuce, I briefly steamed the peas and the asparagus so they were just a little tender and then bought some amazing whole grain bread from Whole Foods. The addition of the bread creates the classic bean-grain duo that makes up a complete protein. Now that it is a little later in the growing season, I would add squash (yellow or zucchini) and peppers, instead of the asparagus and peas.

Warm Balsamic Bean Salad (originally from The Splendid Table)

Servings: 4 servings


1/3 cup good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced
4-inch branch fresh rosemary, or a generous teaspoon dried whole leaf rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
4 large cloves garlic, diced
Pinch hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 14-ounce cans of cannellini, pinto beans, or lima beans, rinsed and drained (If you are using dried beans, this is about 4 cups of cooked beans)


1-2 bunches of asparagus or two small summer squash

1 cup fresh peas or 1 medium pepper


  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, rosemary, salt and a generous amount of pepper. Saute 2 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the water, garlic, and hot pepper. Bring to a very gentle bubble, cover the pan and cook 3 minutes, or until garlic is soft. Don’t let it brown and be careful not to get spattered by the water. Stir in the vinegars and the beans, and set aside.2. Steam the asparagus and peas by starting with the asparagus for three minutes, then add the peas and steam for an additional 2 minutes or just until the asparagus is tender. If you are using summer vegetables, slice the squash into thin slices and cut the pepper into thin stripes and steam together for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender but not mushy.
  2. Combine the beans and the vegetables in a dish and serve with whole grain bread. Enjoy!
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